Two poems from the stunning collection Mansion of Happiness by Robin Ekiss.
“Edison in Love”
Thomas Edison loved a doll
with a tiny phonograph inside
because he made her speak.
Is there any other reason
to love a woman? Did she say
the ghost of my conception
or something equally demure?
It’s hard to be sure how he feels
when he holds me, I fall apart.
I’m projecting here. He didn’t feel
her first transgression
was in having no expression.
René Descartes, too, traveled alone
with a doll-in-a-box
he called his daughter. Francine,
Francine… is it better to be silent
and wait for everything
we were promised?
Or should we love them back,
the way a train loves its destination,
as if we have the machinery necessary for it?
“The Question of My Mother”
The question of my mother is on the table.
The dark box of her mind is also there,
the garden of everywhere
we used to walk together.
Among the things the body doesn’t know,
it is the dark box I return to most:
fallopian city engrained in memory,
ghost-orchid egg in the arboretum,
hinged lid forever bending back and forth —
open to me, then closed
like the petals of the paperwhite narcissus.
What would it take to make a city in me?
Dark arterial streets, neglected ovary
hard as an acorn hidden in its dark box
on the table: Mother, I am
out of my mind, spilling everywhere.