excavation: the bone that has no marrow
Let it dry—let it dry in the ditch—
a roadside bone—innocuous.
Still, hard to reckon with.
You don’t know the who of it, barely the what
but once it belonged & longed & had stride. Now it rises from the poke
& takes your hand as though for a walk
through rain & it is alive again, a man, urging you on
to mr. anonymous
who coaxes & spends you & swings you by another name. Who never gives his own.
How bloodless he is. Sitting at the white table. Handsome shirt.
And below: tight pants filled with nothing. Undercover matador.
More bloodless than this bone you’ve found.
Ask no more about bone. Don’t breathe or swallow. The stinging
belt, your buckled hip, the blade
chucking your chin, drawn down your neck,
angling toward the breast.
Don’t ask about the voice that snarled and nested in your ear.
You lived in hoax and hoax is fog. No charm of finches to blast it clear.
His charm: all harm—
His/yours. Don’t ask.
In the bleeding berries on the nettle-hill
where pond was a ruse for calm
I gave voice
to what deadened the field what ended its green
said the word assault, prettier than r____.
The thing shrank from its essence.
The words took breath to say this pushing air away
(as though to dislodge it from the skin to dislodge his breath from your face his voice
from your ear as though to remove space as though to accord you your own space)
Breath lost in one swift pull of winter.
After I said what I said said the word
assault was prettier. Assault was less
invasive. R____ would mean admission and surrender.
The words took breath
(Hush, hush. Come, forgiveness.)
It took seconds for him
to push me down then he was done—
I was supine. Perpendicular, the tree. That night
we made a kind of staggering diagram in the parking lot.
How had he risen from me? Jerked out, rolled
Crude knuckles scuffed by fatigue and dust, the roots
of the tree inches from my face. Had he gripped
my wrist, pressed a knife at my neck?
For decades I’ve walked in a daze.
through insect-amputees who are not dead
but don’t have the gut or grip to shield their good
remaining legs. They’re scuttle-dry and yellow-gray
as storm-gripped sky.
For decades I’ve walked
in a daze through this day’s recitations.
Low crawl of red through leaves
I pulled myself up. Parallel, the tree. That night
we made a kind of shuddering frame for the air.
How had he gotten me down? Had he seized
my arm or waist…. I don’t remember the least.
frida says (a translation)
i will cut off all my hair and use each strand
as another bar of music each bird an unbridled note
i want the dark birds they’re more easily read
they can use my hair as nesting threads
you have said you won’t love me without
my woman power—what protects—my veil
i say: my burden—what strangles—dead tendrils
of pleasing pleasing appeasing
follicles which have no sheen or motion
i sit on my hellish yellow chair without my hair-shirt
in my man’s suit and small man’s shoes my legs wide
like a man’s smoke issuing from fingers
immaterial green bird in my lap
-from DAYLILY CALLED IT A DANGEROUS MOMENT (Alice James Books, 2017) selected by Spring 2021 PoemoftheWeek.com Guest Editor Cyrus Cassells.
Alessandra Lynch is the author of four collections of poetry: Sails the Wind Left Behind (winner of the New York/New England Award from Alice James Books, 2002), It was a terrible cloud at twilight (winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Award, Pleaides/LSU Press, 2008), Daylily Called It a Dangerous Moment (Alice James Books, 2017) and Pretty Tripwire (Alice James Books, 2021). She has received fellowships from The Corporation of Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony for the Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center, and she has been the recipient of a Barbara Deming Award and a Creative Renewal Fellowship for the Arts from the Indianapolis Council for the Arts. For Stream/Lines, an Indianapolis Waterways Project, Alessandra has served as one of the three poet/curators through Poets’ House. Currently, Alessandra teaches poetry in the undergraduate and graduate programs at Butler University.