by Laura Merleau

First, you have to fall
Apart.  The jug
And peach posed

Solidly on the wooden
Stair must disintegrate
Neatly as if cut

Out of negative
Space and flung
Into the flat black

Sky.  Meanwhile,
You wrap yourself up
In your worn sleeping

Fur and imagine
All the pieces of
The puzzle of your life

Coming back together
Starting with that black
Jug and perfectly

Ripe peach—the frame
Of negative space,
The wooden stairs—

Reassembling in one
Swift click of
The camera and,

With a few parched
Corn kernels on your
Tongue, you snuggle

Down into the shadows,
Tucking your ragged
Pelts close, and know

Everything can heal.

by Laura Merleau

You are falling
like the leaves,
putting your whole

body into
the effort.
You are landing

on the bed
of dried locust
beans, on the bed

of the ocean,
littered with fish
skeletons.  You

are landing
in my arms—
I catch you

every time
you fall and still
you don’t so

much as whisper
thank you.  I
rub almond oil

all over your
bruises.  You go
to sleep.  You

wake and spend
your afternoon performing
endless somersaults

and rolling
down the slopes
of my body—

my hips, my
thighs, my

regions where
I whisper a
thank you and

wonder if we
are, in fact,
the only people

left in the world.


Laura Merleau was born and grew up in the Kansas City area.  She
received a doctoral degree in American Literature from the University
of Kansas in 2000.  Merleau taught French at Arkansas State University
in Jonesboro and English as a Second Language at Washington
University in St. Louis.  Her novella
Little Fugue was published by
Woodley Memorial Press in 1992.  Her poetry has recently been
accepted for publication in
Rougarou, Poppyseed Kolache, and
Ragazine.  An excerpt from her novel Blood Sugar Jezebel has been
accepted for publication with
The Survivor Chronicles.    

On “Fusion” and “Fall Patterns (2)”:
When I wrote the poems “Fusion” and “Fall Patterns (2)” in the
summer of 2010, I was looking at
reproductions of collages of the
same titles by Wieslawa “Dzidka” Contoski.  Dzidka was the wife
of a friend of mine who died before I had the chance to get to know
her.  Her collages are some of the most remarkable and inspiring
works of art I have ever seen, and they have motivated me to write
a series of poems.  So I look at the collages while I write, and I let
my mind go.  I try not to be bound by any preconceptions of my
own.  The often recurring images Dzidka uses—peaches, fish
skeletons, locust beans—are fun to work with and explore on
many levels.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 5, Number 2
(Fall 2010)

Copyright © 2010
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.

Fall Patterns (2)