The Forger Represents her Sister; The Forger, Abject; and The Forger Addresses her Valentine

Ann Keniston


The Forger Represents her Sister

Into the river it’s time to reach my hands again. A-lethia means I cannot cross. Here: receive your coin. A vessel has been filled with tears so we can drink. Always, I wanted just a little more. More gruel, more suffering or being touched. Forbidden fruit tastes better once one’s finished having to forgive. So many apples strewn over the lawn. My canvas must be primed again. It takes forever to get the chiaroscuro right: a part of nature and a part of pain the remembered or misremembered line. Not this dividing and indifferent blue. Here are some hues that cover up the hackneyed ones. Here are some trespasses we failed to ask forgiveness for back when.


The Forger, Abject

(Julia Kristeva)

All night, I twitch and itch and scratch. I feel my corpse quite close, a stray that strays instead. Here is the edge or tether. The birds have shrunk to flecks. A hand prevents my falling in. It is my hand, apart from me. The thing I made from splotches engrosses me. Tireless is what I am, a boomerang. Desire comes in, the body I revile and clamor toward. Here-gone-here-gone persists, an antique game with substitutes. A door appears with an old-fashioned latch. I can’t walk through. I can’t unanswer what was asked.


The Forger Addresses her Valentine

It is that time of year when withered leaves still cling. When potted daffodils are forced. The ground is stippled, freckled, fickle, dim. I try to alter not but slide. Slip up and over, stray too near or far. Behold my not-quite-heart-shaped heart. It speeds and slows like anyone’s, a stand-in for a still unravished bride or homely girl with heart of gold. Some crinkled paper tucked around this flesh is what I made today. It spikes my lust. A store-bought heart plus lace is for display. My hands manipulate to make the old stuff new. Out of untimely rags I made this otherwise and many-splendored thing.


Ann Keniston is a poet, essayist, and critic interested in the relation of the creative to the scholarly. She is the author of several poetry collections, including, most recently, Somatic (Terrapin 2020), as well as several scholarly studies of contemporary American poetry. Her poems have appeared in over thirty journals, including Yale Review, Gettysburg Review, and Literary Imagination. A professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno, she lives in Reno.