I Know a Woman

by Marianne Reddan

I know a woman who had fear removed; an ice cream scoop of her mind poured down the sink with the cheap wine.
She does not sweat when the ocean turns black,
and the fire alarm cannot make her jump.

She is not missing the important facts.
She heard the storm warning, knows the war;
on TV she watched the Colonel push bamboo shoots beneath a soldier’s fingernail.
She never bore her whites.

But her eyes are working fine.
She sees the guns, her heart doesn’t skip, she hears the firing— blood, torn fingers, spilt guts and smoke.

The plane goes down,
She is calm.

I plan, too, to conquer fear,
to be indifferent to the tomb
to tell old flesh, rot as it will,
and to never collect questions for fate.

I looked for her Monday, running up and down 5th Avenue.
She was not the lady buying bracelets and earrings, minding the price and shine, looking in the mirror and not around.
She was not the man sitting with indigestion, straightening his back, searching for his Tums, hoping to god the burn keeps down.
She is the woman asking for a glass of water in the restaurant whose kitchen is on fire.
Frantic, standing over her, I ask what she thinks of her ways.
“I’m dead,” she says,
and chews her steak.

My flesh is grass
and this I will fear
as long as living men lie.
If to be aware
the drought is near
to shake me old & dry,
brings no care,
panic or tear—
Then surely in the rain, I had already died.


Author's Note: reference to Sexton's "Hurry Up Please, It's Time" & to the amygdala damaged patient, SM. This is really new, and the first thin I've been able to write all the way through and want to go back and edit for months, so comments would be reaaaallllly useful.

Posted on 12/03/2008
Copyright © 2021 Marianne Reddan

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 12/03/08 at 11:57 PM

I think it's pretty damn perfect as it is, to be quite honest.

Posted by Anita Mac on 12/04/08 at 04:49 AM

I'm with Gabe on that. This is powerful and well told.

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