The Book of Dirt/The Normal School

By Nicole Santalucia

The book of dirt

In the book of dirt
there are no gravestones or shovels,
no shoes abandoned on back porches.

In the book of dirt
I bury the fight I had this morning
with my wife.
This dirt is on the dog’s feet
and on every window
of our house.
There’s dirt on my apology note,
the tape won’t stick
to the plastic refrigerator door.
There’s muck under the stove
and torn pages from the book of dirt—
this might be the last piece of our marriage.
We’ll leave this dirt on the kitchen floor
and we’ll fight over the dirt on the rake
resting on a slab of plywood in the outhouse
where people used to shit.
I imagine Marianne Moore
hovering over this shithole.
In central Pennsylvania,
the dirt is haunted.

 

the normal school

1915 Teacher’s Manual Found in a One-Room Schoolhouse
-Central Pennsylvania

You may not loiter downtown in ice cream stores.
You must sweep the floor once a day and scrub it with hot soapy water once a week.
You may not smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco or carry a pen in your mouth.
You may not dress in bright colours, especially yellow, green, and orange.
You may, under no circumstances, dye your hair.
You must wear at least two petticoats and three pairs of underwear.
Your mother cannot marry her brother.
Your sister must stay away from the town drunkards before 5pm,
but after 5pm she may solicit for sex.
You may not marry a man, but you can fool around with women on Friday nights.
Start the fire at 7am so that the room will be warm by 8 am.
Keep asking yourself if you’ve really fallen in love with the nun,
train conductor, and the tailor.
This is a lot of loving to do, you are not allowed to love this much.
Cover yourself with a napkin when you eat lunch.
You are not allowed to menstruate on school property.
Ring the bell every day: four rings in the morning,
two at lunch, once for the cow, once for the moon,
and twice more for the farmer and his wife.
Do not sit on your students or their horses.

 

 

 

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Nicole Santalucia is the author of Because I Did Not Die (Bordighera Press, 2015). She is a recipient of the Ruby Irene Poetry Chapbook Prize from Arcadia Magazine for Driving Yourself to Jail in July (2014) and the 2015 Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize from the Tishman Review. She received a Creative Writing Fellowship from the Marion Clayton Link Endowment, a Chancellor’s Award and a Council Foundation Award for Service from Binghamton University. Her non-fiction and poetry have appeared in publications such as The Cincinnati Review, Paterson Literary Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, 2 Bridges Review, Bayou Magazine, Gertrude, Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, So to Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art, as well as numerous other journals. Santalucia received her M.F.A. from The New School University and her Ph.D. in English from Binghamton University. She founded The Binghamton Poetry Project, a literary outreach program that reaches underserved audiences, and she directed the program for four years. She currently teaches at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania and brings poetry workshops into the Cumberland County Prison.

Art: Rain #1 by Josh Graupera, Issue 3 Featured Artist

Josh Graupera is a Lancaster born, Philadelphia based artist. He received his BFA in Painting at Millersville University in 2014. Graupera also attended residencies at the Chautauqua Institution, the Fabric Workshop Museum and Second State Press. www.joshgraupera.com