What I Know

A weekly poem, read by the author.
July 16 1998 3:30 AM

What I Know

What I Know


By David Rivard

Advertisement

(posted Wednesday, July 15, 1998)

To hear the poet read "What I Know," click here.

I don't know the happiness felt
by that woman who believes
she can actually recall
being a cold bullet fallen
in a field of trampled spring clover
without having hit any man
lying there dead
or groaning.

Neither will I ever know the happiness
of the one man among us
who remembers so clearly
his life long ago
as that aspiring but naive piece of parchment
on which a tribe of mistrustful lords
and barons wrote
the Magna Carta.

But because the steam-heated
winter dries
Simone's skin I know
I get to stand by the still warm tub filled
with bath toys--
     toothless killer whale
     reborn
     as cruise missile,
     two turtles (mind-readers),
     one pirated galleon beached
     atop the styrofoam
     hyacinth, & floating face down
     in the water (abandoned,
     lonely as a double-crossed bagman)
     the begoggled action Barbie
     manufactured nude
     in either Hwangshih
     or Kowloon;
and pouring oil into
my cupped palm
I get to lift her hair
so as to rub the oil over back, blonded
swirls along her neck, coarse
scraped elbow, thighs,
and this
is the happiness--
I know
happiness
squealing.

David Rivard is the author of Wise Poison.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.