A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Screened-in porch. In summer. Orchard darkness in a fox pelt of woods. Quiet flat as a dime, as the Midwest itself. I rock, smoke cigarettes. The bead-heads of tobacco smell like my heart, its smoky panels, damaged dusk. My eyes are prune-dark. Humidity tucks into my eye sacks.
The topiary of my emerald breath, grizzled by grime, tells me, go under to be found. I am thirteen. I read bad poetry, listen to the warm. “We will all wake up semi-angels, if we wake at all.” I domino my waking into liquid cynosures. Masticate my face, shut my forceps smile because my body, a soggy brick, is a dead pheasant.
The screens are the ones in the confessional, its atom-withered cloud-can. I am dramaturgical sin, unfeminine diction. Guilt is good. I wear it, a Girl Scout badge.
I think about boys. I want them to feel me up, put their tongues in my partial mouth, tight as a trenchant wreath. With them, I get gone. My mind is a dense node of sleeping fire. Watch out!
In purple sunglasses with iris-grey lenses, I sneak out. Boys are around. I know it. I smell them. Dapper sweat, shackled by ironed fog. Milky hairs on their upper lips.
They’re in the woods. Good. I lie down, a sober fern, with the precision of the blind. My body is a weak-eyed specimen in a lime-green bikini. I wait. Wait.
Beauty is a has-been. The bats are out, are flying testicles. Dirt covets the soft peninsula of my toes. I finger the strap marks hours in the sun have left upon my body, a petroglyph. I’m in dark roughage, crisp as toast, among hunks of wood pitted with holes, purple as violets when blooming. Indian pudding darkness quadruples in my TV heart.
Boys move toward me, are ghosts from tombs, hungering. They hiss. I’m not fancy. I’m rust that flecks, a birdless mouth, a caw. But the bats, those aerial burrs, they devour insects like candy. Butter brittle. Pecan sandies.
A boy finds me. Works me, a mechanical toy. I chew his tongue, hold my blood down in its blackest triangle. Our make-out session greases the stars. My mind mosses over, pitted by kisses, anonymous kisses with holes in them. Weep holes, stink holes. I dream the fled eyes of bats, their feral pearls, the itinerary of their equipped seeing.
I live in a house on Sprucewood Drive. The rooms are steely parlors, cold as fixed stones. I like it here. Mornings, I sit before windows thick as plastic cheeks, my chair, a hearse. The sky is white, white enough to be a veil for the palest pilings of the dead.
In this house, I have a blue aquarium for which I purchased angel fish. Silver and black, their veils have been ravaged by other fish. Tiger fish, ugly as bees, Gouramis, blue tetra, loaches, platys, swordfish with tails like feverish needles. I have turned inward. In me, animals are running themselves to death.
My life breaks up, is incomplete water. In parochial pain, I’m reduced, become fish stock, white spit. Not enough to fill a scant cup. Where do I turn then, in a world turning with or without me? Into an indestructible creature? I wish.
Copyright 2017 Elizabeth Kirschner