Kate Bernadette Benedict
Godmother Is Leaving
Godmother? Don’t blame her for this.
She was merely at home, packing.
So what if she was heading south?
She didn’t abandon the boy,
she entrusted him to the blue sisters
whose heads were bowed when the tragedy happened
and they were slow getting to him, being discalced.
I followed the crowds to the scene of the ax
but we weren’t permitted to look.
Mumgod was in her boudoir,
stuffing her softsides with pliant materials—
for in the south, there are waters to be taken,
grand spas with pools warm as amnion.
Her big yellow taxi’s right outside.
Off she goes, meter ticking.
No mourning weeds, no kissy face,
not one wave b’bye.
So what’s the story?
What have you to do with the honoree
that we should grant you the last opening at the tables?
It has been a matter of some publicity, this benefit.
Why did you not bequeath?
Yes, yes, that which extenuates.
One could add it to the equation.
Nature + nurture = mercy
and we could use an anomalous soul like yourself
in that particular quadrant.
Doors open at eight but don’t come early,
there will be confidences.
Take your place between Diana and Monroe.
but the exact menu is classified, top secret.
Bring an appetite for the uncanny.
Wear your best nugget of coal.
To belt it out that way,
to give it your all!—
and still the part goes
to the one celeb
whose presence here
at Camp Shall-Have-Been
makes about as much sense
as the single yolk for breakfast
or the single Port-o-Pot in a tamarack.
Tant pis, eh, eh.
Anyway, why hanker after fame
when the hour is so somewhat?
Come out on the veranda.
See what rises
in the murkening southern sky?
You can just make out
the outline of the Americas
behind the cirrusy wisps.
The chromatics of it!
Then the obscuration.
No Occasion Whatsoever for a Parade
No bleeding of brass, no clarion,
no one hawking helium balloons—
why do we/why do we march today?
The asphalt thuds as we step/as we step.
It clarifies the mind if you let it.
I see now that we are together in this,
this forward march
which began with an initiation none remember,
which advances toward an end point none can see.
Too much haze there, in the distance.
Impossible to tell if the destination is far or near.
Impossible to divine much of anything.
Such a narrow avenue, such sparse shade,
no overhang to shield us from the hostile elements.
That burned boy in the wheelchair, at the curbside—
is he the only spectator, then,
cheering inaudibly, waving his fingerless hands?
Lord Es has made it known that a brown child
will soon be delivered into these pale arms of mine.
A nervousness disrupts our domesticity.
Roads are closed, rations scarce,
wish and will in long quiescence—
there is no preparedness, no cradle or manger.
Therefore I come here, to the garden,
to walk the English maze
or sit with cupped hands under the jacaranda.
When the black hawks fly over, I make allowance.
There is a room beyond the cooking room
where are kept the rare utensils
and beyond the utensil room,
another room lacking windows and doors.
The faint moanings come from there.
The sisters of the Lord will bring the child to me,
unswaddled and writhing, lustrous with uterine fluids.
Grief is upon me: my gaunt breasts!—
but it is prophesied
that milk will flow instantly from them,
lavish and sweet.
I will be adequate after all,
despite my years and antiquated ways.
Kate Bernadette Benedict is the author of two poetry collections (Here From Away and In Company) and the erstwhile editor of the online poetry journals Umbrella, Bumbershoot (its lighter offshoot), and Tilt-a-Whirl. For many years, she served as a moderator for Eratosphere, the online poetry workshop. The poems featured here are from her manuscript Night Queue, a collection of archetypal dream work inspired by the writings of James Hillman. Kate’s poems have been appearing in literary magazines since 1980, and she is a contributor to many anthologies, most recently Villanelles, Hot Sonnets, and Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease. A Manhattanite for almost 40 years, Kate now lives in Riverdale, New York.