Page 14


BOOKS & THE CULTURE Elsa Explains Time to Albert I went to the butcher shop and I must have brushed up against something there is blood on my skirt. At first I thought I’ve cut myself, I’ve cut myself many times. Calf blood or rabbit blood? I don’t know. When did it live? Is it still alive? Where is it learning to sleep? I must put my skirt in cold water. I know it will always have blood on it even if I turn off the light. Einstein Explains Time to Elsa We are seventy we are sixteen. Here you feed me oranges even in winter here the flowers live as you cut them, here you lift up your skirt again and again and again. And the air inside our hands is for breathing and the sand, within the hourglass, always falls for the sea. Hold My Dress I will hang my clothes beside your suits sleeves still shaped like arms will touch my breath will steam your mirror and as we sit reading my page will turn to answer yours we will wash our hands with the same blue soap evening sun will stir the morning two morning rains will fall at midnight and you will hold my dress so I can step into it JENNIFER CLEMENT Jennifer Clement was born in Mexico City in 1962 and lives there with her two young children. A founding member of the Tramontane Poetry Group, she has worked for Viking/Penguin Press and Times Books. Her poems and translations have appeared widely, and a recent collection of her poems, was published by Ediciones El Tuccin de Virginia. The “Elsa” of these poems is Einstein’s second wife. Clement’s next collection, Newton’s Sailor, contains numerous poems based on science or the lives of scientists. Her spare and elegant work has the power to evoke vivid scenes and suggest intricate relationships, with just a few powerful brushstrokes, a swipe of blood, a puff of air. There is something there everywhere. Naomi Shihab Nye SEPTEMBER 27, 1996 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25