two poems


(you may recognize the earlier versions of these two poems as two separate pieces that I’ve already featured on this blog. I was unsatisfied with them, however, and some heavy edits were in order, so here they are, complete! – hopefully I can finally leave them to rest as is.)

Wild Salmon

Tongues thick, the pink of my elbows, my knees. Sometimes the white tennis shoes leaked, the grass in the backyard ankle-high. When the pavement skinned me I lost nothing. A day swollen and full-mouthed, festering with light. A day with our palms stretched like cow hide on the overpass tarmac, waiting for the sky to birth crows, for the year to tip sideways and spill into clouds of yolk and grey. Low lights at night, something under-tongued and drowned, a year spent waiting for you to turn me small in your mouth. A car slid down your avenue in blue haze, radio blaring, and its meaning fell through me. When will this stop being so heavy? I drop everything I know into the basins of my thighs: years are lost in me. A subtle teething, bright rot of morning: asphalt heat weaving webs around our shins, how this only means something now. And the last night walking home with shucked legs, wet clothes, feeling like something was catching up to me, waiting for it to crash headlong into my back. In memories, I go half-deaf. In memories, I am quiet. Swimming through empty rooms in a body of sight. I see us strawberry picking, laughing from our bones. I watch the super 8 footage of your birthday, every movement an impossibility, everyone shivering in swallowed light, bodies excuses. This is not yet forgetting, this is only a mouthful of blood. Like a startled wait, this yearn wrung through teeth. Like a muscle unlearning itself in whiplash and the slow leaving too. It is simple: only this waiting-room, feathered march of anesthetics, falling through the hollows of a name.

Froth & Pulse

I. Sometimes, blood on fresh snow like an opening. Sometimes, the apartment stairwell back-lit, hallways laid bare for miles, tunneling throat. The woman next door presses her palms to the floor in gold-light, feels for pulses below, comes up empty every time. The dead dogs humming. The rise. Blue movements: telephone static, someone thumbing a bruise. Too much on either end. The glow & pulse of the tongue: my mouth as wide as this room & just as empty.

II. You walk into my dreams in marrow light. A sky froths and stutters over children skating on a frozen pond, spits up ravens that curl and shrink. When we were children, a sled crashed into an oak and blood spilled cotton-soft. Words shatter this type of lightness. But in this dream, it is my body splayed over the ice, palms sacrificing themselves to the sky, an empty threaded pulse. You walk past me and my eyes cloud until I’m blinded and the scene repeats.

In the years afterward, people will stand here without hurting and never know.



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