002.1: Sasha Steensen:: Here’s a little story: & Storybook & Be Long 002

A confession is not just an admission of truth. A confession pulls the listener into a close relationship with the confessor. We share in the burden of the truth and the story. Sasha Steensen's poems, instead of marking the boundary between herself and reader, incorporate us into her story: "writer was— we were— / in a family / how its means / meant you’ve been there too." By reading the poems, we have agreed to share her burden, and Steensen shifts that burden onto our shoulders: "will you hear your head say: / you belong to this family, / and you should know it. / Not just know it, understand it. / Accept it" until we as readers become inextricable from the poems: "They will wonder if you’ll be coming back, / and they will worry about how to fill the space / you once filled." Andrew Wessels

Here’s a little story:


writer was— we were—

in a family

how its means
                        meant you’ve been there too

tanking about, running over one another as in a war, haven’t you?

we were in an energy crisis over and over again

over here—
                        how could we have known any other way when we’ve always re-solved it

like a puzzle

                        but instead of missing pieces, we have extras, chewed by the dog, strewn about


—This is the landscape of the mind, memory, the escape of land sinking in the bog behind the
                        house, between the town and what you own.


                        You must have a family story that looks looked like this, look and see.


Storybook


Perhaps the biggest folly
is to admit the storybook
to look into my own story
with fantastical desire:
what do I see but melody
sprawling out before me,
swallowing everything it sees.
And inside its mouth, a full set
of two-year-old teeth.
I remember the chewing as terrific.
The same mouth told me,
          No one wants to hear
          the story of the writer
          who lived in a wood
          and died spinning,
          the mouth is stronger than the ear.


Be Long


Will you be long
among the others
with their piles of buckeyes
torment and tender,
will you footle about
or will you move the car
forward quickly,
from north to south
will you rear your head
from within,
will you hear your head say:
you belong to this family,
and you should know it.
Not just know it, understand it.
Accept it.
Bring the bucket back when you are done.
Bring the tongue into the house,
the mouth
and stop it.
Press it on the roof, if you must.
Stop it or I will
drop you off on the highway
because I can’t stand the bickering
in the back.
You live in a family,
and this is the sort of conversation you find there.
If you’d rather not, you can fend for yourself in the forest.
And so you pack your rucksack, as others have,
but really you hide behind the barn
hoping that if you be long,
how long,
they will think you’ve gone.
They will wonder if you’ll be coming back,
and they will worry about how to fill the space
you once filled, what to do with the chair at the table,
the bed in the room.
But somehow you know you don’t belong,
this is some horrible mistake.
You are not of this place and people,
but of some much larger, much kinder place
where there is an empty space,
and those most-gentle
sit around
wondering
worrying
where you are,
where you’ve gone,
and if you’ll be back before long.