Poetry: I Guess We’ll Have to Be Secretly in Love by Rosebud Ben-oni
Rosebud Ben-Oni’s love poem curls into itself, thematically and visually—put the anaphoric “to” on your tongue and let her generosity of language and image carry you into equine affection. There’s so much given here, and where a lesser poem would end, “I Guess” merely picks up steam.
I Guess We’ll Have to Be Secretly in Love with Each Other & Leave It at That
To can’t do. To overly over-you,
to te amo [wrong name], to songs of wronged
I think we & planting boxwood & snowdrop
for not our winter
children, nor sweet box
To facetiming winter silence
for hours. To no camellias & christmas rose touching through a screen
& not still sorry
for less than a week in iceland
& some other life lurking
on black sand shores.
To my life, to yours,
under half-sunken moons & oh the places we won’t go,
to not airbnbing
haciendas of airy
rooms & canopy beds
engraved with lions
To drug restaurants
that serve only cobra lilies
with a side of delicious blackbirds
who wield spiked hammers—
a kind of punishment
for that ]]horse[[ I still long for.
To splinters & spitting
the names I’ll never
in kitchen inferno [when burning certain animals]
without remorse. To your most exquisite
stews & fermented
I won’t break
to catch a broken down train
To that first train we missed.
To falling off & eroded hoofprint.
To the city you saved
by sticking a scorched trainer
in sliding door &
what’s so wrong
with hell anyway. To
as a betrayal of what is happening
to people we love
& to people not just waiting around to die.
To love as resistance but not always
the way back. To can’t I can’t I. To you
crashing into the bathroom
& fishing me out of the sink
& carrying me in your arms
like that scene in the bodyguard
only the song I sing has no queen,
has no eyes
or dreams, there is only
dim & dog-eared
kaddish. To forgiving me
for all the plums I’d most certainly devour.
To the platypus & fisher king, to breaking
in case of emergency.
To reading adonis
in a crowded bar while televisions
signal flare amid a canopy
To having hope
in our pop-up whit of the world,
its edges sour & peeling.
To never having really left jerusalem
which is why I’m still busted stars
& throwing elbows.
To the hours we made horses between nightfall
& war. To should go home. To leaving it
the longest way
of derailed horsecry
& amaranthine bones.
Born to a Mexican mother and Jewish father, Rosebud Ben-Oni is a recipient of the 2014 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry and a CantoMundo Fellow; her most recent collection of poems, turn around, BRXGHT XYXS, was selected as Agape Editions' EDITORS' CHOICE, and will be published in 2019. She was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan, a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is an Editorial Advisor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Her work appears or is forthcoming in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Tin House, Black Warrior Review, TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, among others; recently, her poem "Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark" was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. She writes weekly for The Kenyon Review blog, and teaches creative writing at UCLA Extension's Writers' Program. Find her at 7TrainLove.org