Jacqueline Vaught Brogan – Notes from the Body

Notes from the Body

Jacqueline Vaught Brogan

Published in Connotations Vol. 3.2 (1993/94)

Is it over between us, before it's begun?

We talk, several times daily

at great cost.


Something spiralling between

    our vision—naked trees,

grey light, flashing storms,

reddest aspens

of the fall

You're afraid of your job.

I'm afraid of the world—

what tree, what sister,

    felled again

whispered her last

syllables this night?


    And did anyone hear?

My neighbor, pregnant,

with a two-year old child

was murdered.

Someone tried to break in

to my house, twice in one week.

(My children were asleep-with only

one staircase: no escape.)

I could go on.

      I try to go on.


Listen: the air is hurting

like a person

who misused the once sacred


water is phlegming

like a person

with too many years

of too many medicines.


If I can't say this

to you, whom I know best

of all, how can I speak

of it, of us, at all?


Today, that man was lonely,

on my street,

dressed in a heavy overcoat,

hiding something cheap—


and the river, St. Joseph's

only looked clean from the street.

Children are dying
at 74 degrees heat
from hypothermia (starvation)
a whole continent is dying
(global warming) Antarctica

And we've all lost our names.
And the map stays the same:

in every war


    someone always rapes a corpse,

    someone pisses in a flagging


    someone puts out a cigarette

in a frozen eye

    someone always cuts out a tongue

not knowing why

Is it over between us,
before it's begun?

I never bore your children

nor danced in the sun—

    light upon the waters

Austin, Oahu, wherever—

this spiral, this spiro—

    graph, even spies of my own


keep nudging me, saying



and not because I've quit loving you—

    aspen smells

    flannel voice

    leathered whispers

    silk and skin—


but because I'm becoming afraid

of just how much

I really am


    to hate