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by Noa Kleinman, re-edited March 1997
This is a test.
Do not go to the door,
do not shout for help,
do not wring your hands
while deciding if its better
to ring your mother
(if you still have a mother),
get drunk or go to bed,
whether with yourself or with another,
it makes no difference.
In 30 seconds or so
the world will have righted itself
again; everything will be all right
once more, you can go to sleep
and stop worrying,
stop even thinking about it.
Until the next time
this is only a test.
I am growing old
now, it is too late even
for regrets. Since
all my life I've been a traveller,
I'll be leaving soon; again
I shall not resist
the next strong wind
that blows in my direction
any more than a migrating bird;
I also fly with only instinct or
a faulty memory to guide me.
And when I go, just one last sigh
should see me off....
It isn't death I'm thinking of,
that's not the trip I'm taking,
at least not yet, I hope, not this time.
Old age is the country I'm bound for.
I am a woman, I know I am;
I have a womb so I'm a womb-man.
What was the centre of my body
is now an alien's space because
it's filled with tumours, growing,
growing all the time
and changing shape
and moving over the scars of old rapes
and among the lingering remnants of all
the children I miscarried
over the years and never talked about it.
Within my body I've retained
at least this damaged flesh
as a momento of a kind,
to snarl over and protect
[1990? Before the cancer]
I have a lover like a young tree
graciously swaying in the wind
of my desire, while my clever hands
seek out the secret whorls,
the barely acknowledged places
near the roots, where moisture gathers.
[1986-87 written in London for David L. my last, totally hedonistic, guiltless fling
which, I suppose, lost me the friendship of 2 people but I don't care.]
- Noa Kleinman
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revised 24 November 2005