Shivering WeedsShivering weeds
I float in the river, threads of green vines twined around me,
twigs and foxgloves laced in my hair.
If I drown perhaps I will grow gills, silver slits.
A truck cornflower blue pulls over to the side of the road.
A man casually scoops up a little girl with pigtails tied with red ribbons.
She has no name now.
Fish stare at me with flat eyes like silver coins.
They place coins on the eyes of the dead.
But I am something else.
The princess dreams of spinning wheels that bloomed like asters,
fingertips pricked, guppies swimming beneath her eye lids.
No one will find her.
The truck is now only a blue jay on a road ending in sky
surrounded by the shivering weeds.
Rorschach's BlotRorschach's Blot
Spiders and bears and misshapen trees,
when the swollen fruit drops it bursts into wren wings,
salamander tails shivering, the color of bruised plums.
It tastes so sweet, the tip of a beak.
With a straight pin, I peck at my arms,
a Pollock of blood, swarms of carnelian bees.
Sweet sweet stings. The poison sings.
They say hallucinations, the saints said visions.
"Ollie ollie oxen free," they call running through orchards,
the evening air loosening, a grace note of despair.
There was once an apple and it was bitten,
poor thing, all hell broke loose.
"Tell me what you see," he asks.
"White," I say, hospital sheets, sea gull fluff, porcelain doll faces, albino snails
You must not slash, you must not smash.
"White means purity," I say.
A good, good girl.
"No look at the dark thing."
But I am the dark thing.
Ollie Ollie oxen free.
We stopped here three years ago, "just to get our bearings",
Just Married scrawled in soap on the back window.
Our buick's backseat sagged with books on flying buttresses,
petalled windows, gothic stone spires that spiraled
like spinning tops. We wanted to make stone fly
and glass bloom. In the diner, I take orders;
the same truckers, same shirts, checker game plaid,
but no one makes a move. "The usual," they say.
You chop tomatoes, onions, baby carrots in the back, your knife
slippery as a fish. The smell of fried egg coats everything.
Earlier that morning, we found stones, flat with ridges, fins and scales.
They were caught in the chaparral.
When it flowers, the air will taste of butter.
This desert was once an ocean with whales huge as eighteen wheelers,
their bellies crammed with plankton, dried peas, car parts. We want a world
that will become what it is not. Where the road bends,
someone has painted a virgin on a shack wall, no babe,
just a cactus pear in her arms. With
The body is weightless,
bones hollow as flutes.
They sing startled crescendos
beneath the world distant and harmless for once,
a map of what was.
"Here lie monsters," they warned.
Here lie creatures luminous, grotesque, incandescent
beyond anything you might know.
In the still morning air,
churches rise, stone buttresses,
the bones of saints.
You finger each of my words,
the click of rosary beads.
Outside our window,
wagons clack, sheets flap,
squares of white, windows to something purer.
We sleep curved around each other,
the cool taste of spoons.
Only there is no longer anything
for us to eat. I slip away from your arms.
But I can only give you this, a light so clear
we don't have to be who we are.
The table between us is a moon.
But the air is heavy. It lies
on us, muffled heat stilling
our breaths. You drop your fork,
but I still won't look at you. Even angels
would crawl if they were here.
"Why can't we be friends?"
I am thinking of a Flemish tapestry
I once saw in a white stone house,
walls dense and prickly with roses:
a line of stiff scarlet soldiers,
a rearing horse. The soldiers' thick fingers
grope at the blank cream cloth,
seeking purchase, gravity.
"What are you feeling?"
"I want to be a Flemish soldier,"
I tell you. Only my fingers
would constantly pluck at the expanse,
searching for the thread
that will unravel everything.
It was in one of those Northern kingdoms: ice, salted cod, stone. The prince of it, Hamlet, ran into the ghost of his father who told him that he, the ghost, was murdered, poison in the ear, one drop, two drops, by his brother, Hamlet's uncle.
Even more dismal was the aforesaid uncle-brother married Hamlet's mother, the ghost's wife. Are you still with me? Well Hamlet pretended to be insane and told his beloved Ophelia to take herself off to a brothel and somewhere along the way he also killed her father. Who did not come back as a ghost.
Ophelia killed herself. They say she fell into the river. But what do they know. Murder, adultery, incest, madness, suicide, poison, subtle, slippery, so sweet, sliding inside, harebell, hawthorn, marsh marigold, cowslip and hart's tongue woven in her hair, plaited, looped, raddled and fretted, the warp of her breath, her fingers fringed with mimosa, irises on her eyes instead of coins.
She stood over the river, her tongue a foxglove, if only
A story. He told her a story that never ended, a Perils of Pauline, a TV sitcom. She first saw him at her father's table, the wine both honeysuckle and thorn in her mouth. When he looked at her, she swallowed so quickly, she couldn't breath, a fish gasp, the air a flat scale in her gills. She coughed, and he laughed.
His skin and voice shone, each word a shiver of ice, seeping into her skin. She wore a net of pearls in her bound hair. "A net to trap my heart," he whispered into her ear when her father turned away to order more beef glazed in honey. But it was not those words that swallowed her heart.
No, it was the words about pirates, their beard matted with rat piss and blood, wooden crates soaked with spices, horses striped black and white like a written page, barefoot spies, even their voices muffled and sly as though someone wrapped linen around their thoughts.
He told her about battlefields where spears swarmed like bees and death was a rumbling hum in his blood. Better