Tasha Coryell

Dear Michelle

Tasha Coryell

Dear Michelle,

On my first walk
here I passed
a group of fisherman lined
up in a row and one by one
they turned to look at me
and I wasn’t sure whether it was because I was a woman or American
but either way, I felt bare, gutted.

The Austrians say
I have homesickness, heimweh
and it comes with a sore throat
and raw feet from climbing all those mountains.

My home is being sold
and I don’t mean by capitalism or by any imaginary forms
of the word, but that when I go home my home
will be gone.

On my walk to school I pass the brewery, brauerei.
There’s a hole in the wall and no one can tell me why,
but only say that it’s very old as if that is an explanation for something.

News comes like this.
Boy with the red framed glasses tells me he’s coming
to visit and my brother says my mother is being evicted.
Remember when we talked about poem as equation?
Solve for x and that’s what this is.
Home is x, but what does that mean
and if he, boy, body is on the other side
do they even out?

Today a boy asked, “Is she an original?”
I never considered that we might be like this,
factory made.
I could be like a purse, a car, made in the U.S.A.
Buy from home.
Every time I go to the grocery store, I spend more money.
I am in love with cheese.
So far it’s the only thing I am worried about leaving.
And I think
“I can get through today if only for that sandwich.”

I only own one pot.
It is small and flowered.
I use it to make tea, eat cereal, cook the noodles, heat sauce.
The way all last year I got attached
to the bowl I painted with dandelions.
Have I ever told you how I feel
about dandelions? They have the softest prickles
and when blown they scatter about everywhere.

I live surrounded by a moat.
It is filled with a garden now.
In class on Friday a teacher gave the incorrect definition of “Indian Summer.”
She said it’s when everything turns red, orange, and yellow.
In another class, the students asked for the definition of knowledge.
I said it’s when you know things.
The verbs a person knows in a language dictates what’s important.
To need, to eat, to go, I miss.
Here I am an authority simply by being born.
The students tell me that in America everyone is fat.
Everyone eats fast food all day long.
I am always hungrier in other places.
The mileage takes it out of me.

If he were here would this make it better?
Can a person be a house?
I could take out his ribcage and live inside it like a tent.

I worry I will be here for so long we will no longer speak
the same language.


space break

Dear Michelle,

I saw three women in Venice
riding in gondolas alone. A woman said goodbye
to her lover, kissing him outside of the café
her face wet
from the rain.

I spent hours considering
the idea that I could spend
hours thinking about someone
and they might never
think of me at all.

I spent hours
eating. Peeling mussels out
from the shell in which they hide,
placing the remnants in a bowl.

The better lies are not what we tell other people,
but the lies we plan on telling that we never say.
Things like:
I never wanted anything more from you than this.
If we start again, it will be easier.
I am having a wonderful time abroad and would not prefer to be with you.
I would never consider moving to be where you are.
In Italy, I spent no time thinking of you.

The mainland of Venice is dirty.
One of the ten words in Italian that I know is sporco.
Some other words I know: gatzo, fame, mangiare, dormire.
The buildings are crumbling. The state
as the coliseum, collapsing.
Most restaurants don’t have proper toilets and I am given the response,
why have toilets when you have canals?
When there is no more land,
everything will begin to sink.

The way things look from a train window when they are far away and in the dark:
very gray and blurry.
The way I remember his face:
the same.

On the night train we met four boys from Korea.
They said, you should visit because we live there.
The boy working at the hostel was from Milano.

He said, you should visit because I live there.
The girl I was traveling with made out with the boy from Milano.
All he wanted was to make her cum and to not have to work at a hostel anymore.
There was a help-wanted sign hanging over the check-in desk
which was not really a desk at all, but a collapsible table with plastic deck chairs.
The girl I was traveling with said, all I want to know is that people find me desirable.
I said, all I want to know is that people care about me.

The absent and the faceless cannot lie,
but they can also not tell the truth.
I think a lot about the woman who had her face and hands
ripped off by a chimpanzee.

While I was in London I wrote a boy a letter
which included several lies and a postcard.
The lies were about sex.
The postcard was a painting of a boy sitting in Stonehenge.
The last time I was in Stonehenge I was with him.
The last short story that he wrote started there. He didn’t talk about me at all,
but only included interesting facts about giants rocks such as
that they are magnetic
and no one is quite sure how they got there.

Peggy Guggenheim opened her house as a museum while she was still living there.
It’s like looking into houses at night and spying on your neighbors
only your neighbors are friends with Jackson Pollock and married to Max Ernst.
The problem with wanting artists as lovers is that artists will never love anything
besides their art. It should be this way with me and poetry, but it’s not.
I have never loved a poem as much as a face even though the faces I like are ugly.
Even though I can’t look at him when he cums without laughing,
I want this more than a book, more than to live in Peggy Guggenheim’s house on the canal.
I like how airports look because I want to go home.

I came back from Venice
and everything started to leak out of my nose.
This is representative of something.

In Peggy Guggenheim’s house, I explained to a boy
that just because you can make the shape of something doesn’t mean you understand it
conceptually. He asked me what conceptual meant.

Being here a person forgets how to write. Nobody understands this to be a crisis.


TASHA CORYELL’s favorite road to travel is the road to Coryell Island, Michigan where her great great great grandfather homesteaded an island. Eventually the road is no longer a road and instead Lake Huron and you must take a boat to get there. More work from Tasha can be found at tashacoryell.com. You can also find her tweeting under @tashaaaaaaa.