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  • Tyler Norris

Selections from Finding Freud

The following are a group of selections from my collection, Finding Freud. If you are interested in reading more, please see the link in my Wix store page for the Amazon link. Finding Freud is available on Amazon for all necessary sales.

Religion

We lived in a quiet house

at the end of a long rocky road in Nashville,

a tender sanctuary where the sounds of

the dog sleeping in the backyard and

the hiss of a burned-out cigarette

went unheard.

I was three years old swinging on the porch

with my great grandfather, a living ancestor,

bones hardened like gunmetal from the war

and blood flooding with nicotine,

but he was my religion-

a smile and a round belly kept me going

higher on that early morning swing.

I can remember four-line hymns,

a tone-deaf old man and a little boy

that sounded like Johnny and June at

the Grand Ole Opry, the only sound for miles.

Every day had that Sunday-after-church feeling,

like a weathered cardigan and a used tobacco pipe

until the clouds melted away into an afternoon painting,

that wild Tennessee sky splattered with watercolors

overlooking the hills, and then

as the sun slipped into the ground

I grew out of that old swing,

but Papa could still lift the moon into the sky,

dot the yard with a million lightning bugs

and sing those old songs as if

the soul of the south could never die.

Cooking With Wine

The kitchen is a woman’s soft skin

upon which the sun has laid its hand. The day

is alive with light, it cascades in abundance

all around this place. It reflects against

the clean furniture; we are at the center of all

this bliss.

Music plays softly around the room and

gives a face to the moment. It is characterized

by a simple piano, a jazzy singer’s voice.

The pan has only just begun to sizzle,

and the distinct pop of the wine bottle

defines the room, gives flavor to more

than just the food we’re cooking. You wear

your smile the way you wear your dress, it speaks

volumes to the book shelf of your thoughts; behind

your eyes is a thinking mind. I add the wine to the

base, a plume of steam grows from a satisfying splash.

We’re cooking up something good here, something

that brings narrative to the literature of life. There’s more

to this room than just the Italian ambiance. We’re growing

like the garden from which these ingredients were grown.

We’re singing like the emotion from which music sings.

This miracle is as simple as breathing, and within it,

we breathe. We finish the meal as the afternoon covers

the room in shade with its softened glow. Cleaning

the kitchen is made better by a handful of kisses. No day

is forgotten when it’s lived like this. We take our place

on the couch with drinks. We live the day like we know

what the day needs. As the day turns to darkness, we kiss

as if to say we know what the night wants and longs for.

Self Portrait

I take up my brush and I’m careful

to start with the shadowed areas first.

That’s where I put all my memories

of being overweight, and when they

called me names. That’s where I put

my parents’ screams, and my

video games; the things that hang

in the back of my mind.

I color in some of the lighter shades,

where my old friends are. They’re

hard to see but still there, close

to the foreground of my face. I draw

the ears, where I heard my teachers’

instructions; I always loved school

so much, and I color in the nose,

the thing that brings out sharp memories

of foods I’ve eaten, and of nature.

I draw the lips which touched

a dozen others. Those dirty things—

they’re hated by so many, but those girls

don’t know I meant the words

those lips spoke on summer nights.

When I draw the eyes, I see her face,

and his. We were such a good team,

the three of us. My lover and my

best friend, we colored the world

together.

I look at the final product, and then

I look at the mirror. This face is

almost unrecognizable after everything.

Yet here he is, the finished product of years

of the world’s work, painting each day

into my life as if creating the foreground

of a living canvas. You performed your art,

striking into my life an experience

with every stroke, creating a continuous

portrait, the unmistakable image

which I claim as my own

as each day becomes another layer

on the picture of my memory.

he soul of the south could never die.

 

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