Mandy Malloy

The C.E.O.’s Announcement, Transcribed By My Heart

Staff Meeting —4th Floor Cafeteria —6:00 p.m.

I find myself compelled to tell you
about my journey to find beauty.
How I watched it fight
to give itself up to words

like a bison shot through a lung
with an arrow, coughing
blood on dry thistles. How I still search
for the word we are hungry for today—

—if I start to cry, please indulge me.
Tomorrow you can say to one another
over coffee, “he’s a romantic,
and they can’t help themselves,”

but first I must tell you how I ache
to woo you, to pull an exclamation
of singing birds from my breast
pocket, pet your cheeks with its wing-fury

while I usher your eyes under a feather-night
canopy, stroking your hair, whispering
“Shhh, it’s all right. I’m here.”
If you sense menace, it’s only fear

of love’s fluttering energy,
and if you weep ... don’t worry.
We’ll talk about it later by the cheese—
it’s close to private there.

No one will notice our furrowed brows
as you show me your romantic
parts: the earnest boot-click,
or the small black car—how they wake

the infant in your heart.
I’m just beginning to understand
the shadows moving behind the window
of a human face, and yours

is a fresh mystery streaked with—
—what is it?
Who canceled their long-promised visit?
Who came in darkness, and stayed?

I admit, I want to touch your face.
Let’s start with a handshake.
Let’s habituate ourselves to the idea:
there’s someone here

inside our suit jackets. Let the blood
flooding our ears hush for a music
that can snake-charm our terror—
we’ll pretend it’s the brie

but we’ll yodel together, and find
we suddenly know something
about beauty: how it’s a barn
made of weathered boards

on the wild American plain that grows
in all our hearts, eventually, no matter
how bitter we find the seed;
how this barn is lit from within

how the closer you get, the clearer
the stamping, the clapping, the thousand tongues
braiding laughter with tears—
how when you open the door, everyone

bucks like bison calves shaking off the rain,
throws their hands up in pleasure,
our brothers, our sisters, crying
“Hola!” or “Hal-lay-lu!” or “Yay!”


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