Cate Marvin
January 2003

 


The Readership


I suppose must have been orbiting all the time
I've spent bent at this desk, unaware of its presence
as those victims of alien abductions, who claim
they were taken on board, experimented upon,

and gently replaced to their beds. Or the readership
may be hovering, held in a flight pattern, endlessly
repeating figure-eights, everyone on board desperate
for the captain's reassuring announcement

they'll make their connecting flights. Or perhaps
it's one of those massive sea vessels that looks
so grand from the shore, same as the ferry I saw
cutting its shape on the Mediterranean's edge,

when I was young and traveled with a notebook.
When to follow a map was to learn a finger's width
could mark the hours it'd take for us to get there.
Fellow passenger, companion, friend, perhaps when

you were sitting beside me your mind was really
on the readership. Maybe that could explain your
sudden disappearance: Mysterious as those lights
in late night skies no one can prove or identify.

Perhaps the readership prepares to land, and you
are among its passengers, presently ripping
at a bag of peanuts the flight attendants provide.
If this is so, I offer a goodly signal, words radiating

redness, radio towered. Much like a lighthouse
casts its warning to the morass of sea, I simply ask
that you heed me. Gentle barge, it does not matter
if you listen, it does not concern me. It's too late

for you to put the book down, cancel the flight,
concede you were always terrible at planning.
When you arrive, hold fast to your belongings.
The purse slashers in my poems have more

than your money on their unsubtle minds. I'll speak
for my life when I say I'm glad you have arrived.
I've waited like a starving country, arms heaped
with hand-worked goods I'll sell you at a native's price.

And if the readership does not exist? Perhaps
it's only intriguing as a conspiracy theory--
how I want to believe in it, as if it will provide
the answer for everything that's gone awry.



from World’s Tallest Disaster, Sarabande Books, 2001.