Europa, by Teal Van Dyck

From this home, I meet the magic which changes everything. . . .

. . . I hone my will, wit, and wisdom to flow more fully through the complex systems I co-create.  My life makes small cycles in my brick house in the railroad woods.  My queer polyamorous femme fam fills my kitchen, at the autumn freaquinox we’re clever as ever and bring in the harvest from all over town.  Basil from the Town Hall planters; heirloom tomatoes just ripe before the late blight; kale, collards, and bull’s blood beet greens from the queer cooperative farm.  Radishes outside the door, glory of corn, purple dragon beans going strong, elongating from June to September.  The abundance and ease of our agrarian autumn with red maples and red apples is tempered by onset of desperation.  Winter threatens to brings me to my knees, knock the breath right out of me.  We’ll meet again! Soon the root cellar and the long haul.  Soon the peeling olympics, squashes and the stocks simmering down.  We’ll dream of these days in the kitchen surrounded by every vegetable.  For now, we taste both the sunlit psychedelic grandeur of trees’ transforming colors, and the whip crack of night getting serious about getting colder.

Ardor’ is a letter to a long distance lover who has left the region and the season.  In celebration and raw longing, I appeal to Artemis for perspicacity.  ‘Europa’ tells a story about leather, passion, transmasculinity and transformation.  Both poems carry the liminal spirit of autumn and the bared throat of the hunt.  The third poem, ‘Persephone’, is a reflection on Mabon and the underworld, and the way the unconscious and visceral permeates the domestic mundane.  In my domesticity, as in the rural consciousness, there is wildness and uncertainty flooding up through pastoral harmony.  I live in the both/and, day and night, rough and tender.  The fire in my hearth is the fire in my heart.  From my kitchen, I hear the fisher cat out back eating rabbit after rabbit.  Each one screams.  I keep making dinner.

Europa

i.

He growls I hate good mornings in my ear.
No looking forward without looking back,
No autumn Sundays, apples & denim
Sleeping on the porch, bruises still stinging
Curls of smoke & fur our lonely avenue.
As if every time you zest a lemon, steep the tea
You shouldn’t sing ’Pour Some Sugar On Me’.
As if we’re facing a last frontier, not just some prairie.

ii.

You got me unlockin’ my door at night babe
If you made me feel safe I’d be lockin’ it
You got me leavin’ that latch at night Sir
If I thought you’d be kind I’d be turnin’ it
Just me & that unlocked door Daddy
If there’s a lesson guess I’ll be learnin’ it

iii.

Mix garlic & rhetoric, roll matzo balls for dinner
Stew three months, teach me while I’m young
Brew hops & ginger, smooth with Bowie knife or pumice
Produce osmosis, forgive your father’s treachery

iv.

On the news, Augusto Pinochet dying of old age,
His heart stinks like overcooked kale.
You rise like a white bull from the sea;
Kick my shoulder with one cloven hoof.
Riding your sinew nightly, slouched against
Your horns as day breaks on a new continent.
I sleep in your elbows.  My dreams return.
Leather tarantula palaces, lilac in bloom.
Virgin of the Igneous Rocks, Venus de Millennia.
You, too, are vascular, wielder of blades.

Should I prophesize our famous island sons,
Our lion-heart’d spit-polish’d line of succession?
You’d give me that look for machismo & mysticism.
(In 1966, Ram Dass was Richard Alpert.)
Pinochet’s son appears on the television,
Gives the general’s life to “God and the doctors.”
I pretend the radiator is Hades grinding his teeth in sleep.

v.

Sweetheart, I wonder how those asters survive
Soaking in a jar of Johnny Walker Red.
I ran my mouth & split my sutures –
Can’t say you’re sympathetic –
What did I expect from a dystopic two-step,
Some kind of shuffle toward equilibrium?

If you’ll still dismiss sugar as saccharine, I swear
I’ll sautée fiddleheads in brown butter
With tarragon & consternation,
Grate winter squash into a saucepan,
Stuff your restless gut with sausage
& chard from the farm.
Sound the alarm.

Note: an early version of this poem was published in 2007 in The Reader, a Hampshire College literary magazine.  

Teal Van Dyck

crafts poems and stories about his research in the fields of queer time travel and trans survival magic.  Teal enjoys taking care of his chosen family, his feline daughter, and his boots.  He creates multimedia performance work with his primary partner.  He can be found snacking, dishing, and sharpening his claws on conifers in the hills of Western Massachusetts.

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