“that lonesome vibration so familiar to young boys”
– Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory
Some of us grew up with mothers
floating on water beds in the dark.
We tried to keep ourselves
company, to smile and laugh
all dressed in yellow.
What do I inherit now
that the boy’s father never knew
him that way, and
the mother is still sleeping.
Now like then this shimmer
that surrounds the body,
keeping it apart from.
Humming its way across the skin –
this attic-space this basement
the dryer thumping the splintered light
a record slowly revolving.
Do we find ourselves
in Nabokov’s nursery, the boys
we never were.
Do we materialize
on his conjured walls,
cast by a magic lantern,
do we fill the space with our future
shapes at last.
Originally appeared in L.E.S. Review, Winter 2011-12
Jaime Shearn Coan lives in Brooklyn, New York, teaches at The City College of New York, and leads writing workshops with the NY Writers Coalition. Jaime’s poems have appeared in journals including the Mississippi Review Online, Drunken Boat, and The Portland Review and are forthcoming in The Anthology of Trans and Genderqueer Poetry. Jaime’s artist book, dear someone, is distributed through Printed Matter, and he has recently been awarded fellowships at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Tin House Writers Workshop, and Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts.