Shades of Sick
I woke up, sick of today,
still a golden caterpillar,
high as balls on buttery dreams.
My open eyes deceased the dreams,
I forced myself awake,
and I didn’t let me snooze again,
or as I used to say to mom,
my human morning alarm,
Hindi for ‘just 5 more minutes’.
I knew I had to start producing
Work, Food, Friends, Words,
In other words, that necessary nectar
that lay liquid, beyond the horizon
of this hive.
But today I was sick with fear,
that no friend would volunteer
to bring me soup.
The idea of my forehead
as warm enough and worthy
to colonise a purple square on your calendar
was meme worthy,
given your attempts to outrun sprinting time.
I was so sick,
so I was one with the bed,
the pillow the north pole to the south of my head.
I peeked awake through glass
and skinny tree towards the sky,
frustrated with her sense of style,
changing her clothes, over and over,
the dresses darkening and darkening,
shades of blue.
You Can Buy Squishies Online
Everywhere I go, all I can see
is mothers and daughters. My mother
has a pizza dough belly, soft and
stretchmarked. I liked to point it out,
squeeze it, to remind us both that
this is where I once existed, that I am
one of the three reasons her belly droops in
grayish purple sashes. I pressed my toddler
hand into these folds, hoping they might
disappear me into her once more.
That winter I was quite sad. The custard comes
in beautiful cylinders that shivered when you tipped
them out of the plastic shell. I dug my spoon in
and it tastes like a grayish purple
on my tongue. The spoon carves its hollow. Sometimes
I wonder, can’t
we ever just experience our pain
without learning from it?
There is a hand resting on my stomach,
on the warm black velvet
pulsing with it velvetly, skin
bumpy like velvet, grass cool like
hot velvet. The hand on my belly
is my hand. I won’t know its exact give
and take, the way its folds sink and grow
and sink and grow. If I can see a leaf falling
from a tree, can notice its curve like a hip,
like my hip that I’ve inspected
in the mirror, that aches, maybe
one day I too could have a human body.
(three separate poems)
Villains in sheeps’ clothing
They all look like they are enjoying themselves
Seeing things in things
We love to prove me wrong
“Mine own eyes deceived me”
They bump into each other, sadly
Lots of laughing
It was a lot of things that affected me, clicky
[Marie Antoinette] trod inadvertently on the executioner’s foot. He said “Oh!” as if in
pain; and, in that supreme moment, she apologized with queenly courtesy: “Pardon
Monsieur, I did not intend it!”
I am only guilty of taking
that which I was given: the chandelier
sways before settling, the curtains
collapse under their own weight, the baker
stoops against the cusp of a blade
you mistake for dawn. I never
stoop, only bend, if I choose to. What else
do you want me to say? The horses you freed
know no other home, together they’ll starve
alone; eventually the wheel
must return to where
Argument Over Text Message
If you need a change of perspective, you can
google search “Pygmy Things”
or order a swing-top trash can on Amazon,
and when it comes,
it will be five inches tall.
You can pull a cushion up to the television and watch the weather channel.
You will realize that whether or not
you have a birthday party to attend,
the rain will come in buckets from the sky.
You can swim naked around Aphrodite’s Rock at midnight and then, you will have eternal beauty.
But what if it is twelve oh two or eleven fifty eight?
What happens then?
You are naked and your heart is a mallet on the inside of your chest
and all of a sudden it engulfs you, the everything of it,
and all of a sudden, there you are,
naked and treading water,
a small head bobbing in the waves,
letting your eyes go out of focus and then letting them come back in.
you need to keep track of the house when we are gone, because of robberys [sic] // read two weeks ago, replied to Mom never, the alarm on my phone says Dad forgot to disarm; a cat ran across the motion field of lights flashing on, pooling, a month of shadows displaced from drying, drying dead growth, the roses my father tended to shattering from want of water
why is sandra even in this group chat she isn’t even going // said sister, i promise when you and dad and mom are trapped in a metal prison 35,000 feet in obdurate clouds for sixteen hours, my eyes won’t leave the sky praying for the tin rust bucket to touch down safely and that i am spared from the tragedy of flying is my prerogative but my staring eyes trail tears; i won’t be there for the gusting winds of Bagan through clay pagodas quake-cracked, faith-swept, made gold by leaf and honey, made sweet by time and memory; i won’t be there but my eyes won’t stop watching
please don’t dye your hair rhian not for this family trip said my mother because my sister wants balayage purple, flush from tip to scalp and it would break the portrait mom wants for our family but there is already craquelure on the oil paint, ah-may, we have not had entangled roots for decades there have only ever been three of us in Burma anyway and the poltergeist of the fourth trailing behind. we are gossamer threads of a frayed tapestry— and the slow unravelling bleeds color until my sister’s hair turns platinum and our cheeks are waxy white, the defensive lie of our bodies is unsubstantiated, but my sister and i are painters still
we need to find someone to pick us up from home and drop us off at the airport (five in the morning) // from father “home” as pure rhetoric as if the lack of presence was maintenance in its own— my home’s mouth opened and its soul escaped left for 7,000 miles away got swept out to starry seas and entangled in siren nets of sound but landed on verdant Burma where i realize that the cracked and craggy facets of my home fit better, better in here, where the landscape trembles from the force of my parents coming home
- Gemma Brand-Wolf