When left alone I do what I often do. Which is lift out
some worms from my box of worms
and split their hair-scale bodies in half with a needle.
Everything in the body can be made perfectly clear
by soaking it in sugar. This means the light stops changing.
When I break the right kind of worm its eggs explode
out of it and keep growing. At those times,
as required, I sit around in the dark and watch.
In general I try to have no expectations that you’ll love me
from one moment to the next. And every night
my body breaks the spirit of the law. I think
it is vitally important to say nothing. I hope to never
accidentally ask not to be alone. You are the most
sophisticated type of person, whose cells don’t die,
whose inputs and outputs are smoothly coordinated
and all sound exactly right.
An egg or other cell, when watched,
listens all around it for its friends, and if it does
or does not hear them, then it pinches
itself in half or just shy of half, and splits.
I look with a laser in each egg for the glowing dot
that marks a future head, which is also how,
I think, we learn which of our sides is inside. In this way
everything in the body can be made perfectly clear.
with a line from Sappho, translated by William Logan
Anna interprets my dreams as the fear of botching
a chance at heaven. I would like to believe in
the plurals of things, the hour shored up against a bridge,
its bright underbelly furring against my cheekbones.
Everything here is all shutter and no latch.
We’re a bunch of wackos who cry before our birthdays
so the morning startles in its fullness. Sappho, from the Greek,
could haul up a bucket of spring water
from that reeking sewer of her life.
Seeing that my life is not so much sewer as the lake
we swim in, with its fair share of algae and silt blooms,
the water should be clean enough, if not to drink,
then to wash away the day’s worth of dirt.
A woman is / turned into a lake she is
secretly pleased. Great blue herons
are moving across the sky / and the body
of this twisted oak its / arrowed branches / flung
in every direction / is now
leafless / so that its outstretched
arms do not / run the risk / of breaking
their own weight / cold sweat poured down
my imprisoned limbs wherever / I moved my foot
a pool gathered / that this water could
bruise me my voice / caught in bird-call I
want you to put me in the ground
with my mouth open / and when we say earth
we mean human
earth / foxes have no history
transcripts / know not how their great grandparents
died / and who among us / records / the continual
losses / it is lighter / to be fleshless / a beetle colony
takes three months to eat / a white dog clean
like a hymn / say / I will be taken / knowing
the bones will remain.
*The first line of this poem is inspired by Jia Tolentino’s New Yorker Article “How a Woman
Becomes a Lake.” The other italicized portions of this poem are taken from Ovid’s
Metamorphoses, when the nymph Arethusa recounts how Ceres, the river god, tried to rape her
and as she was fleeing from him, she turned into a lake.
My city, hardly a city, still
swimming like a newborn—
two winters into this dream
the streets feel pale and distant.
I made my room so clean last night
I thought I might disappear, folding
laundry until the space looked smaller
like something out of a children’s book.
Or like Meg’s window in the corner of the television.
Or like an engine in reverse but heard
through playback. Last night in the dark
something seemed to give, so I scraped the salt-licked brick
for the heat beneath. In the newer version of this dream
everything is still red and distant
and August finds bodies pressed to the street
like too many petals collapsing. Each husk unearthed, unfolded
in my two steady hands. My city, I am trying to write my way
back to you, but out here I remember
only echo or ghost. Or these hands
shaking, all through the night.
Even in the body each story ends
outside of the body, and here in snowy Boston
something is left buried. Easily, like broken glass. Like light
bouncing off the sidewalk.
Land lies, not for use of self. Very slowly do
things vary. In some sense, rock breaks from
rock to become other. In another sense, black
knowns are always moving to the unknown.
Or skin. There are some places in this world
that are loved. And still other loves that are
placed. There is this place and there is this love.
Here. Under the olive branch. Except for now,
you have not yet pulled roadside in our descent.
I passed the silence by eating dates, sucking slow
pits to spit each seed out lowered window and
last pressing lone walnuts into defaced soft.
This is not you pausing to pull self from
self to relieve. This is me in the car seeing
you pool off and down. Dare me to speak
of what lies, below. Of Mary coming
to the well, only to see her guards, as well
as her angel. Each night, I remember every
part of my body has been touched except
the inside. And I am inside. I am letting myself
happen. As crows above turn quickening
berserk, taking flight over sky rising poppy
petal. Now. You were there. Above. You
were there. Nazareth is waiting. Nazareth waits
for no-one. I am still miles behind us, full
of wonder, at what palm each pit might become.