Terri Witek

Why Necessity Spits into her Tunic

To ward off what's next, the ancients surmise.
But when the reins (her insignia) slide across one palm,
when foam flecks back from the bit
and an apple bough appears in her other hand,
then what speeds Destiny's wheel on the cart
also feeds the bloom that feeds the apple
that feeds the horse that is Necessity (out of Time).

Bare Necessity sleeps sheetless.
Clothed, her tunic resembles a tree with twin branches.
She pretends to be Daphne (chased into it)
or an everyday dryad. But no one pursues Necessity.
Their eyes slide away from her
the way her eyes slide from the gods.

Her tunic's key-stamped borders have softened,
over time, to a pattern of waves.
These edge everything, as in our world.
In the rough weave of the tunic, then,
a drop of spit is the ocean's outpost.

In the classic American version of this, Emerson
identifies Necessity as the clear round eye of God
because someone once spit in his woods
and now a madman lives near it.

Two men spit into their hands, seal a deal.
Women (Necessity is usually a woman) spit into cloth.
An act which becomes public when a mother rubs
her child's face with a little spit as if to say
AI am the ocean you are the froth of.-

Once women spent their days under spit curls
held in place by double-pronged pins.
These armored hairlines eased into the cloudy fringes
of the cocktail hour, and even children were bottle fed.
Later tunics bore the tear-shaped marks of lactation
(letdown) and the usual vigorous spit-up.
While we mime Necessity, our offspring,
recalling the gods, aim for Invention.

Spit, then, not only transports influenza
but also the virus of love.
In the big screen version of this,
the sea hoists Aphrodite like a sweet-smelling hanky.

Which suggests the wine dark sea is also the spit warm sea.
Necessity steps into it as if into her tunic.
Today she's playing naiad.
Joining her, we meet cooler nerves,
an act deeply intoxicating, especially at night.

Rain again.
Etymologists say Necessity is sacrificed last.
Entomologists breed love bugs to X out mosquitoes,
who die willingly on altars of flesh.
The summer weather brings out both, and they ignore each other.
The letters between our authorities, then,
amount to less than a drop of spit.

But Necessity cares only that when she looks away,
things soften. Touch her tunic with a wary finger
to find spots dark and warm as your mouth.
So hush. As you sleep, another outrider finds its way
to a raveling shoreline, where it will be welcomed
like the tributary of a dream river.