Girl takes her cherub lips, presses them to mine.
My soul slips out, and dangles, a Christmas ornament
glinting from fire, woken up for the holiday and set to die
come the first of January; let’s clarify, that this girl
is a girl I love, with chestnut hair and almond eyes, who
collects fallen leaves in autumn, plants them like seeds
when spring arrives, and she’s planted her dead things
in me, knows that she will run backward into church,
kneel, shy and bleed like a healthy female child,
come Lent she’ll abstain from candy, and for Penance
she’ll confess my neck, my breasts, my Roman nose
and slim thighs, nothing a well ordered prayer can’t cure
happens, swoops up into a wind, is buried six feet.
Dirt covers me, and on occasion, I still choke on it.
Crushed my pelvis with his mind
I vomited the browned roses all over his walk.
He came chugging, in his waistcoat
clutching Antares in his right fist
palming Regulus in his left hand.
He slammed them together, sparks
ricocheted and whistled, I swallowed
the hot bugs, and inside my belly they buzzed.
Those days were lightning in bottles;
we rode the rivers in Volkswagens and sleds
pulled by mythos and old spells
the robust transfigurations
of unspoken wounds and bubbled times.
I remember them better than him:
a man’s brain can only hold his praises
is what my grandmothers said.
During his drinks, I hummed the girlhood songs.
We continue on singing, we titivated faces
laced in Midwestern waters.
With toes sunk into the ant flecked soil
he beat me with his eyes curled shut.
I take your acrimony and split it over my knee.
How long am I to be dragged behind the car of your anger?
Make off with my house, my papers, my possessions,
but you can not take the torch. Flames shine high
above the lash of my third eye; you can not reach beyond.
By now you should know that I’ve the skin of a rhino—
I’d rather be pummeled and spit all my teeth out than crack
a smile your way. Go to the wharf, and undock your boat,
take your wind while you have it, for storms slither fast
up rosy horizons, a snow leopard can hide behind a sinking
sun; I’ll reiterate—I have never lied. If I tell you the time,
and the wraith of relativity quickens sudden, and you turn
aside, and get caught by the flashing hoof of a white horse
knocking you down from heaven into the churning waters,
know I take no pleasures. Violence breeds violence
but no love needs love to sprout fervently out a bed,
or be parched to dust by a withholding sky in summer.
Whitewater is the song
in swift echo, swung sea salt, splashed hand reaching for
a god who was last seen resting on a stone
in the far south, in Patagonia,
with a woman in its arms, and a boy babe
at their feet, and a shrill daughter
calling out to the gulls and surfs,
all of them trying to remember
what music was
Truth might be an animal.
Nature beyond the scope of the seen. Wilderness
nonetheless is in my dry lips, my chapped feet,
my frigid voice, attempting to carry my love
through each doorway.
Death greets us
at birth in the moment of our breathing,
in the moment of our first grieving,
knowing that we are all well on our way towards dying
to someday, say farewell to death.
The forest is bending, the cityscape
holds firm non-growing but it is changing.
I heard that a god was seen
walking along the Avon
on its way to Bath with a man,
holding hands, in dresses long as sheets
draped over them as if they were ghosts.
Shouldn’t I, be moving?
Not just out my mother’s womb.
Upwards and heaving, my sweat, skin, and body laden,
reeking of smells that dare the skies, dare the soil,
dare the deer that dart through my childhood backyard
and prance through my memory as a hurricane.
When I met a god
I was never the same. How lowly
its brow fell, how lowly
its spine slouched, how lowly
it spoke, weaving a basket with gingham
Couldn’t I, with time and luck, become some god?
A god of braided, thinning hair,
a god bracing against the thundering rain, shivering
under a cardboard box, the ceiling
I could be that god.
They tried to measure my
soul, taking my blood,
scanning my brain.
In drones and machines, in the arena
of quantifiable actuality the alabaster
philosophers sat with me, instructed
that I was a golem.
“Here’s when you will die.” They
held out the chart; I followed the
pointer along the line.
At a cliff
is when the magic would wear off.
I’d atomize, shatter insolubly,
become the grainy food for the vegetable lords.
I won’t be going anywhere. I don’t have to wonder.
The tintinnabulation of bedpans filled the days,
whimpers in the pink dawns, eked. Travelers came
with blankets, brass and beads, braided sweetgrass
around my wrists, recited the folksy litanies.
Who slips in and out of space
better than the immobilized? I
could knead the hours in my head.
In the wan hallways where nurses
cluck and sputter ghosts will visit
their old grave beds.
I saw them all, low-slung and creeping on the tile.
Pariah dogs who sought some bones I fed them
my drugged fears.
They spat them out. Squatted on the foot
of my isle, relaying to me with decrepit
hands clutched to knife knees how best to
navigate the seas
when it was time.
Renwick Berchild is half literary critic, half poet. She writes at Nothing in Particular Book Review, andher poems have appeared in SUSAN Journal, isacoustics*, Spillwords, Vita Brevis, The Stray Branch, The Machinery India, Lunaris Review, Streetcake Mag, and other e-zines, anthologies, and journals. She was born and raised on the angry northern shores of Lake Superior, and now lives in a micro-apartment in Seattle, WA. You can find her work and additional links at RenwickBerchild.com.