DMV of a Thousand Blossoms For Frank Gaspar Frank, I want to tell you: when the Hawks are in the Stanley Cup Finals the young men wearing replica jerseys with their baggy shorts make my heart catch. It's an outfit my dead brother perfected, it was practically all he wore. Here at the DMV there's too much light, loud as a train station. I've brought coffee and your book, which I keep for these emergencies. Now my brother appears in these other men's bodies to renew his license, pay for some violation or another. It's how loving this place comes, slowly, then with great surprise, you write. Camera Lady says she is ready for me to take my place against the wall. When is your birthday? she asks, and I see: all of us in this place born so close together, isn't that why we're here? Today, I say to the lady, to my brother, to the borrowed bodies at the DMV; to you, Frank, to the book of poems then the quick flash of light. Marlena was a mermaid when she was a girl. Well, half-mermaid: beguiling as her mermaid mother, irises green and milky as beachglass, ears curling like pink snails. Now, she is a dental hygienist. Molars and incisors form tiny reefs for her instruments to swim around like gobies: imagine opening the mouth of a bear and seeing a little dollhouse. This is what it is like for her. Sometimes when the children lay back on the blue wave of the chair, the tender kelp of their tongues brings a homesickness almost like joy. Marlena can't help but lick her own tears when they come. She is tired of being always attached to some surface like an appliance, her hair choking on its own brown weight. She thinks Mr. Eliot's poem must be the saddest and most beautiful in our oxygen language: a man hears Marlena singing with her sisters in their red summer wreaths and, hearing their music, despairs. Each time she reads this poem, Marlena's heart tears a little: Of course we sing for you! she cries. At least the poem ends well. Marlena bends above a coral-edged mouth and says open, please.
Jan Bottiglieri holds an MFA from Pacific University and is an editor with the poetry annual RHINO. Her work has appeared in journals and anthologies including Diagram, Court Green, Willow Springs, and Rattle. Her chapbook Where Gravity Pools the Sugar was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013; her full-length book, Alloy, is due out in July 2015 from Mayapple Press. Jan lives and writes in Schaumburg, Illinois, where visitors will enjoy plenty of free parking.