Well-Tempered by Meghan Purvis

Oct 21, 2019

I am tremendous fun at dinner parties
I say this as a joke but it’s true, I talk

and hardly pause for breath, a ticking metronome
of story punchline setup story and only rest a moment

for laughter, a lull like a singer riding the backphrase
still knowing when the downbeat will crash like a wave.

Being funny is my blood, you see when we annoyed him
our father would lunge to the side, pinch us, the weight of him

creaking the linoleum beneath our feet. He’d grab and twist,
folds on our arms that would go purple the next day

now I bruise and don’t remember how, blotches of aubergine
and jaundice-yellow like I belong under a lamp, under a klieg light

like a bassoonist at the open of The Rite of Spring. It was written
too high, you know, so they would play it badly and in dissonance

but Stravinsky didn’t know how hard those players could work,
how badly they needed to learn how to scream.

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