Rachel Whalen

Beard of Jove

I dip my chin into the beard of Jove
and it becomes my beard, devilish, common,
not even St. Patrick could get through it
not even St. George could hack through.

Oh my god, my Jupiter’s beard, my
thunderplant, earwort, imbroke, houseleek,
my welcome-home-husband-though-never-so-drunk,
my cabbage, my thick hair
of fringe.

Derived from superstition, I.
Rooftop warden, I, I.

Are you kidding me, look at it. My precious beard.
I’ll never shave it but if I did
I would squeeze shut my eyes and think of my father:

Once he was my age exactly.
Once he was burned by a trick of light.

My Mother’s Daughter

My mother’s daughter reaches
over a gutted fish

or a room.
She doesn’t know

all the things I know.
At least she knows she is a daughter.

She slips her hand
inside the fish that lies between us,

earns herself a bone, leaves it
in the garden. My mother’s

daughter’s life, for the briefest
of decades, had its mouth around my life. In her dreams

the green alien comes
saying I know the only way out.

Wave Maneuver

I have fabricated
the evidence. The death is not

an actual death. I strike
the owner. I strike

the guest. I strike myself down
in the heart

of the day. I’m just acting. The pretend
is real pretend. Once I was told

that I was psychic.
The person who told me that

was me. Sandpiper
among sandpipers:

anticipate me.
I am First Beast

and I am Second Beast. I am the one
chasing all their beliefs to another rock

a little way down the shore.
After religion

there is at least empathy.
My cleanest goal

is to take my cues from the corners
of my eyes. I am trying

to take possession of myself
before I’m due. Curl of fish head,

curl of Sirius, curl of
able priest,

all I need is your signal
for you to tell me when to leave.

Rachel Whalen is a poet, playwright, and translator from Buffalo, New York. They recently completed an MFA at NYU, where they were a Poetry Editor for the Washington Square Review.