Tuesday, May 25, 2010

from "The descent of Alette" by Alice Notley

from The descent of Alette, Book One

“A woman came into” “a car I rode” “about thirty-seven” “maybe
forty” “Face” “a harsh response to” “what she did” “had to do”
“face rigid” “but she was beautiful” “Was,” “we could see,”
“one of the ones who” “strip for coins” “on the subway—”

“They simply” “very quickly” (“illegally”) “remove all their
clothes” “Stand, for a moment” “Turning to face” “each end”
“of the car” “Then dress quickly,” “pass quickly” “the cup.”
“But she—this one—” “face of hating to so much that” “as she

took off her blouse,” “her face” “began to change” “Grew
feathers, a small beak” “& by the time she was naked,” “she wore the
head” “of an eagle” “a crowned eagle” “a raptor” “herself—”
“And as she stood” “& faced the car” “her body” “was changing”

“was becoming entirely” “that bird” “those wings,” “she shrank to
become the bird” “but grew wings that” “were wider” “than she had been”
“tall” “Instantly,” “instantly, a man caught her” “A cop came”
“As if ready” “as if they knew” “Her wings were clipped,”

“talons cut” “as if as quickly” “as possible” “She was released
then, to the car” “to the subway” “Perched” “on the bar the
straps hang from”

Source of the text – Alice Notley, The descent of Alette. New York: Penguin Books, 1996, p. 11.

TJB: Metro inferno. Nevermind the quote-aesthetic with its communal-individual voice, the lyric energy is in specifics & in the grammar of delay.

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