has a booking for a death,
warns and wails in frantic bursts
unable to handkerchief herself
flings down water onto her naked hair
throws herself across the landscape
howls and howls
calls out with a broken voice
spits leaves into the air.
At midnight, she takes off her make up
washes and blow dries her hair
admires herself in the mirror
drops her comb.
A woman with red eyes
and something screaming in her head
comes into the bathroom for a glass of water
picks up the comb
then falls like a knight from a horse.
Between stirrup and ground,
banshee spirits her away
won’t let my mother change her mind
won’t let her spit the tablets back into the box
won’t let her reach upwards
in slow motion, to grasp and ride again
her own warm body breathing.
It’s the idea of it that’s so damaging.
A simple step out the back door
feet shoot from under.
Flower under snow, invisible banana
under ice that’s you.
Try to remember the shape of standing.
This morning after a cold night
the slow energy under everything chooses
a curved ball.
You shout out a name.
Drop too many exclamation marks.
Slide into a tree.
Can’t say what you need.
Observe time in slow motion.
Damage a river not even slightly.
Out of order
You know it’s wrong but fall harder.
It’s not fast or safe
Like an idiot hanging with an orange
in my mouth, face, I have, gagged
by the icing sweep of a flat knife, throat
I have, caught fast by a snake, one tiny eye
dumb as a whale on a beach, skin incapable
of oxygen, I have, lungs suffocating backwards
into smoke, I have. I have no love words.
A flying fish, I can, caught in a bear’s paw
write a poem with an altered title.
A fish tail flapping, I can, in a larger gold
and silver mouth, sink meaning, I can,
through yellow bubbles to the sardine bone
littered floor, I can. I can say no love words.
Many bodies plugging holes in a levee bank, I see
sheeted into the mud wall. A vertical mass
grave humped tight, I see, stained stone
backs together. I see no spaces between, bending
risking their lives, I see. I see no love words.
She’s started to avoid mirrors again.
They make other people’s faces seem
bigger than they should be
and sometimes much nearer.
Perhaps ‘mirror’ is really another word
for the idea of night
as if the glass, like a leaf, might curl
and drop, leaving only a frame
where the day was.
There would be a fold inside her then,
a trace of water in the air, flying insects.
But, in truth, the many absences
of night need never be complete,
in a forest or in a story,
if a bargain with the dark can be struck.