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What the Movies Have Done To Us – Poetry by Rip Underwood

What the Movies Have Done To Us

An illness and an end: she was now a mother alone.
At the cinema with her son (“Go, do things,
create normalcy in the midst of…”, etc.) she
remembered how it was, how it felt, believing
in a bestiary of gallant and less-so creatures.
As a child she’d thought it Providence.
She’d watched Totos and Mama Bambis
and imagined God watching her the same way:
voicing clever, nurturing dolls or dressing up
in a house of soundless air, latent rooms.
It was a Providence to see, to be
where no intervention was needed, where
all was embroidery, topiary, mercury
poured onto glass, blanching everything
that went before; it was safe.
She wanted that now for her son: an orb
he could carry and in the night
shine a flashlight through, make a world
of simple joy, a world where, when someone
placed a rose upon black velvet, it stayed there.
On the night of the day
the two made their outing, a vagrant Tom
set himself outside the porch screen.
The family cat was in heat.
There was shrieking.
It woke the mother; it filled the air.
Her son came, pried at the bedclothes,
flattened himself against her.
“I have the hiccups,” he said.
She gave him a tickle.
The body of her son, restless and small,
carrier of warmth, frightened her.
It made her remember that other body.
Understandable, she thought. Surely it was.
But as her son fell asleep, she thought, nonsense.
This was something else, barely knowable.
It was snarling and wild, breathing there.
It wanted entry; it wanted to pour
light and heat through her single frame,
to melt her away, melt her to nothing.
Rip Underwood

Rip Underwood has owned a dental lab for many years, along with volunteering, but has retired to devote his energies to finding outlets for his poetry. He wishes to explore a more inward artistic journey and see if the work he’s accumulated has a place in the world.

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