BLOOD AND STONE
What if: stone is what
you get. A gun of stone. What if
the table beneath it were:
& the walls catching the sound. What
if no one knew: you were
around. If people came: from stone
& found only that.
What if stones were: deaf & mute
& cold. What could be
warmed. What word would you hurl.
At what would you point
your blood. Of what is a stone:
composed: what holds what
to itself. What is there to break it
& why when it goes does it
go only: to smaller ones. A stone
has no center but itself. It only
breaks; it does not change. It only
goes from one to many. Stones
always exist. Stones always exist.
Stones always exist. Stones
always exist. There is no way out of this.
We count the amount it has not rained
in days, in inches, in mind: I do not speak to
others if I do not have to, I do not
pretend. It has not rained, and I do not
wish to discuss my day, or my choices.
I do not wish to consider choices. The air
is wrong is what I say, there is nothing
in it, you can feel yourself hanging in your mouth
if you breathe. I say if when I mean
when or because. I mean the dust on everything.
Everything sticks to everything inside
of me, indistinguishable from lack of water.
My friend says a grave is the absence of dirt.
I remember once walking the yard seeing
in the invisible age this box I filled
with sand my heart. I am sick of saying it—
I am not asking anyone to take on the water.
I am not asking anyone to take on the air.
How to think of a place needing rain when
it feels this close to disappearance. A desert is not
a lack—like every living being I used to be
a younger version of myself. I do not miss but
envy her scent for water, the way
she divined. What is a grave if you’re literal
about it. What is a glass but a vessel we raise.
I taste the current that travels the air wrong
like something forgot. When I was a child
I took petrichor for granted, smelled it freely
through the rust of tinny screen: dust and
rain-cooled shingle sizzled the clouds moving
through every room like sound. It’s not the effect
I long for but it helps to say it. It helps to say
a grave is the absence of dirt. To say
it has not rained and we need it, speaking in
the plural, covering the singular as the rush
of absent things would cover their first sign.
HISTORY WITH BLUE
We climbed into the boat that morning,
followed belief or blue line
to a point that seemed right—
a point far enough out
to prevent certainty, visit, sight, a point
that could stand in for belief,
met on its face by time and a new gap
of time, an empty amount
of time, and took an amount of emptiness
from a bag, an urn from
a wooden box, and when it refused
to open for ash, decided
on a tale to replace our design—
left sealed it would sink
and drift until it lodged for all time,
wrapped under sand
and water that would continue
becoming around it, that new vision
its own false belief
subtracting nothing from the sinking
glimmer of every visible surface,
every blue move,
every blue point, the points
multiplying, the world swallowing.
-from GLASS IS GLASS WATER IS WATER (SPORK PRESS, 2018), selected by Fall 2022 Guest Editor, Michael Walsh
Rae Gouirand is the author of two collections of poetry, Glass is Glass Water is Water (Spork Press, 2018) and Open Winter (winner of the Bellday Prize, Bellday Books, 2011), the chapbooks Little Hour (winner of the Swan Scythe Chapbook Context, Swan Scythe Press, forthcoming 2022), Jinx (winner of the Summer Kitchen Competition, Seven Kitchens Press, 2019) and Must Apple (winner of the Oro Fino Competition, Educe Press, 2018), and a short work of nonfiction, The History of Art (winner of the Open Reading Period competition, The Atlas Review, 2019).
Rae’s work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Bennington Review, Boston Review, Conjunctions, Crazyhorse, diode, Foglifter, jubilat, The Kenyon Review, the Lambda Literary Poetry Spotlight, Michigan Quarterly Review, [PANK], The Rumpus, Spinning Jenny, Under a Warm Green Linden, ZYZZYVA, Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poems for the Next Generation, Queer Nature: A Poetry Anthology, two volumes of the Best New Poets series, and many other journals and anthologies nationwide, as well as in portfolios at A Dozen Nothing and The Inflectionist Review and the online archives of the Academy of American Poets and Verse Daily. An alumna of Bryn Mawr College and the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Michigan, she has received fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, the Santa Fe Art Institute, Kalani, Willapa Bay AiR, and the In Cahoots Artist-in-Residency programs, and awards from the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation for outstanding work by emerging poets. Since putting down western roots in 2003, she has founded several longrunning workshops in poetry and prose throughout California’s Sacramento Valley, served as Writer-in-Residence for the nation’s only conservancy-sponsored public arts program at Cache Creek Nature Preserve, and worked with the literary nonprofit Memoir Journal to develop a national platform for the (In)Visible Memoirs project, a grant-funded program facilitating writing workshops in underserved communities. In recent years she has served as guest editor for Sporklet, OCHO: A Journal of Queer Arts, and a special issue of Adanna in tribute to Adrienne Rich, and as Nonfiction Editor for California Northern magazine.
In earlier chapters of her life, she has taught bookbinding, cooking, meditation, yoga, reiki, and classical flute. These days she focuses more exclusively on getting things that belong in books into books. A leader in community-based programming for writers, she leads several longrunning independent workshops in northern California and online, including her cross-genre workshop Scribe Lab, and lectures in the Department of English at UC-Davis. She is currently at work on her fourth and fifth collections of poetry and a queer memoir.
Email Rae at rgouirand (at) gmail (dot) com.