This is still a fav of mine. The bones of it are old-old then it go reskinned in grad school, and I think I might have appropriated the last image from a Neesa Sonoquie piece, but I’ve always loved it. My peers, however, have not liked it. I think it’s funny when poetry frustrates people and they want it to be different but they aren’t sure how. I haven’t shared it with a poet-peer who has liked it, which is so interesting to me.
old one from ago
an old girl, circa 2017
it opened on a high holiday a great gash in the land under my home pulling in it opened up beneath my instinct above two forced bulbs and did not stop needing everything i could think of went in a colored lens filtered through returned purer heavier my body the entrance the crevice a chamber pulled back up and put me again i became a wreath of tissue in this way an ouroboros symbolic going more in and only potency back until all that was left of me was residue i became a trace a flaked portion a smear across everything that melted with the snow
the climate changed – scorched summer all earth sparked wildfires forced the air raining ash i breathed in as much as i could pressed my chin on collapsed grass and burnt myself over hours turning my hands over dropped whatever was left ran knuckles across warm limestone pressed myself with stinging nettles snuck them in my shoes surprised my heels when i put them on two hooks through the cheeks connected to fishing line attached to a curtain rod above me nod my head yes for a smile nod my head yes and yes
i began the year depleted, wincing but in full fight, finished it a core only some dissatisfying skins, something the wind can blow through and make moan
(An old girl from 2009)
one of ours got scraped out
no more eggs, babies, parts
hands made hollow and poured the green glow,
shook her up like dressing
starved to a nothing-husk
gold hair gone, full lips crack the black hole
and our grandmother, her hip-pin slip out
bones gone to pudding
she rides the bed, claws clipped
nothing to admire now
my guts turn out no end
these are these days, evidence in the bowl
cutting everyone off like blooms.
sucking breath back, and the blood alone
An old, old one. Still timely, and more so.
1. You’re purple phase: strapless, lavender, violet ‘P’ necklace, quilted, plum ankle-straps. Or the silk, mulberry and gold, backless. When the time came for me to wear it, I didn’t. You unpinned the shoulders to match your mouth.
2. In a rage, home late, grabbing me from sleep, wrenched arm, dropping the dresser drawers out on me. Refold, refold. And when all of the tissues in the wastebasket reappeared: “not used enough.” You didn’t speak to me for weeks. Mercy.
3. But your back broken now. The right side inches above the other. Your hips are turning around on you, spine craning your head. A mess of moles marking. When did they come? You climb into bed at every chance. All those times I stomped on cracks crying & what you will do.
4. There’s something small, & spun. Thinner than nerves, it lines and wonders at you like things you know from white-haired women, and what my Grandfather smelled like. How you can make everything work like vulnerable swaddling, what all your hands can hold, my hope. And before boiling my bath, before my skin at the second degree: something like a nectar clinging to the insides, ensuring it works, then burning.
Quick bang the screen door
off leash creatures,
loosely woven, unwound peels
set upon the counter
warm floors and the ease of every
How happy now for no
closed rooms, shut in,
smeared across your surface,
no order to wait, wet
hand at my throat’s ribbon
The goodness of skin
without flare, mouth rubbed
red-raw, an agreement to hide
from all the real seasons
Having been shown –
Alone on a train platform and dressed in a slate blue coat and matching hat, but my hair is bright blonde, and it’s the 40s, and another reality.
Trains speed through and do not slow. Loud, and windy. Bone shaking.
He walks up, kisses me and leaves.
Then he walks up. Kisses me. Leaves.
Factual departures, spent limerence.
Two men approach me from either side. I leave, walk forward onto a train.
Seated next to the door, it’s clean. Late morning, sparsely occupied. Out the window is pristine, clear blue, verdant grass and mountains, just tall enough for snow caps.
Nobody who knows me is alive, and I know no one any longer.
Once arrived, in a white cotton crepe short-sleeved dress with small red embroidered flowers at the breast and pockets, red shoes, carrying a picnic basket over a footpath crossing above a creek.
On the other side, I spread a blanket on damp grass, facing the mountains.
An unknown man with broad shoulders shows up in shirtsleeves and a loose tie, reclining on the blanket. I rest my head on his shoulder, stare at the sky. The feeling is forlorn, fathomless isolation.
At night I walk down a wet cobbled street into an old village restaurant with low light, heavy wood. I remove short white gloves and rest them on my bag. It’s lively; conversations, restaurant sounds. I’m seated on a banquette, across from me is an empty chair. Bereaved, bereft. A bowl is set in front of me.
At a hotel with light coral walls, I sit on the single bed, remove my stockings. A desolation, and terminal void. Turning in, under the covers, under the window, under a moon.
In the morning seated on the bedside, a heavy gun. I shoot myself through the right temple.
in the morning I smothered
her body so the blood
pressure could be taken
quakes her fading
coat pulsing a shimmer
her fretting there and back
exhalations gone metronomic
oil off asphalt
snow spread runs the soil
I still tell anything left
of her what it means,
I’m running out of notes now
to call her back with
Adam Driver said he’s got a guy
On round rocks dressed by shallow water, a loose tux like a break from an awards show
I asked why, waving at everything in the night
He said his ascendant is conjunct my moon
jupiter on my sun
Made a gesture like being fed up, but from another country
I said – But he should be
He said – I’ve got it
I said – It needs to be
He said – I got it
I said why is this an ocean
Of round rocks and little water
He said the drop off is ahead
And danced like Farmer Hoggett healing the hero
tell me my name now, new words after abrasion, rape, a cursive, ascender, tell me my name
the old a spent sigil, spool emptied, body outlined by buttons, a tree for the bog, sphagnum and histosol
kept for good. tell me my name Jack-in-the-green, a visit and say so, say so my name, anam cara, smearing my sinews, above us white eyes and stitch me to earth, repairing my measures
say so I know, woven and healing.