February 2002

Christopher Matthews


Christopher Matthews is a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan. His poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, The Cream City Review, The Gettysburg Review, Mid-American Review, Mississippi Review, and elsewhere.

Made of gristle, a Karloffian brow,
& bent teeth that tip up his upper lip

like the fingers of a girl half cowed,
half bold, who studies through venetian blinds

her father drawing a suitcase through the snow—
Boris seems to be the kind of man

could wrench a hook from the palm of his hand
with a little grunt (at the
                                    effort, not the pain)

& a tear, just one, from one eye, like a big-eyed
sentimental needlepoint

or a mole on an Enlightenment tart.
Boris could kill me with one foot

(which they do, don't they,
in the Black Forest when they're not

munching dirt-black cake &
gulping cherries whole)—Boris

could kill me with one good stomp if he weren't
afraid of my Sophistication,

the buckled shoes I thought would only
make me fit in
                      in Berlin 'til I saw

Boris's dingy sneakers, his unpracticed stubble, how
he hunches his bulk to the last hot inch

of his hand-rolled cigarette & passes
the end through the blinds to the half-good girl

not dislodging her eyes from her father
to sip out the smoke.
                                 Boris, I want to say, I'm a ghost—  

& a ghost needs putting away—its whole
ghostliness being a way of saying
                                                   "put me away"—

tell me there's a strength exclusive to
those blessed by love's withdrawal—

say the forest, the attic, the well has room;
say the excommunication doesn't last;

fence me round; hide me in your gloom;
teach me to lose what I've lost.



Christopher Matthews: Poetry
Copyright © 2002 The Cortland Review Issue 19The Cortland Review