Marsh Hawk Review is an online poetry journal sponsored by the Marsh Hawk Press collective. Marsh Hawk Review will appear twice a year, under the revolving editorship of collective members. Each issue will offer a selection of poems solicited by the editor, in addition to new work posted by poets in the collective.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Denise Duhamel

Denise Duhamel

Violenza Sessuale

There is a man with a purple beard—
a viola (in Italian) beard. A viola (in English)
under his chin. He is playing a song
full of violence, his head bobbing,
his purple whiskers tangled in the strings.
He whispers, “violenza sessuale,”
a sensual violence, an Italian euphemism for rape.
He is Bluebird, but purple. He is purple prose
with a Purple Heart even though his bow
saws away at the viola’s strings,
saws away at his own wounds and hers,
until there isn’t music anymore.

*****

Dear Enemy

We’re in the heartland, eating huevos con chorizo in Tacos El Pueblito, at one of the three tables with wicker chairs. The day laborers crowd onto a few stools at the counter ordering iced tea, waiting for their takeout. I contemplate a forkful of the best refried beans I’ve ever had. Nick is extolling the virtues of the homemade chips when Lou Dobbs comes on CNN. The salmonella outbreak has finally been linked to jalapenos grown in Mexico, and Dobbs is fit to be tied. The daughter of the restaurant’s owner stands on a stepladder in front of the cash register and scribbles on a pad. Baby brother kicks his bare feet in a car seat behind her. I look around to see no one is listening to the TV but Nick and me. The men at the counter are laughing about something, the owner sponging down the checkered tablecloth beside us. On the wall is a bas-relief of a Mexican village. The owners have painted “Nebraska City” over the door of what looks like a restaurant. First cantaloupe from Honduras, then the tomato scare, says Lou. The grandmother, the cook, comes out of the kitchen fanning herself. Though she doesn’t speak English, when she sees Dobb’s face, she grabs the remote. Before we can say, Please, Lou, shut up, you’re embarrassing us, abuelita clicks to the telenovella, Querida Enemiga. The little girl stops doodling and looks to the screen. The main character Lorena has fled the rural orphanage for Mexico City where she becomes a famous chef—and, unbeknownst to her, winds up working for her millionaire grandmother who abandoned her all those years ago.

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