The third person, she found,
Was the easiest—
She could delight in the color of her own bruises,
She could strike a match and watch her possessions burn—
Under the sweet water-thin veil of she,
She could be anyone; and indeed
She often was.
More often, though, she was she,
Failing to connect and connecting
Long ago she had decided
I was the refuge of the very childish
And the very mature,
And sought to distance herself from the both of us.
She dragged herself over shes
She found elsewhere, pressing hard
Into the pages, starving to find
Her reflection there.
She remembered generations of women
Smiling faintly over folded arms,
Watching a whine form in her young mouth—
“Who is she?” they asked, eyebrows arched,
Instructing with words that had no meaning:
“She is the cat’s mother.”
photograph by Lina Scheynius
Hay Fever: A Limerick
There once was a rabbit from Thames
Whose nostrils were filled with small gems.
When the hare shook and shivered,
The rubies all quivered,
And soon he was sparkling with them.
photo via Cute Overload
The earth moved to follow his smile,
but she stood aside, let the planet pass.
Her changes were smaller: quivers of little stars,
the sucking dark depths of the ocean.
Young women turned their faces to him like flowers,
hoping for a laugh, an accidental touch,
and men labored hard
to prove their worth to him.
She spun silently in the night.
The weight of the world stood between them
but every so often, in the emptiness of space,
when another kind of gravity pulled them together
he would lay his golden head on her white breast
The Sleeping Beauty by Alexia Bleedel
She opened her mouth wide and pushed the disk of the moon in,
held it on her tongue like the body of Christ.
Last week she had hit a cat with her car,
and as she buried its cooling heart commended
its soul to what gods as would find it
and weigh it properly,
and its body to the mounds of earth
just off the Post Road.
As the first drops of rain spotted her cheeks
she felt her feet growing together,
silver-scaled like armor.
Mummified Cat by Cassandra Barney
after St. Catherine de Ricci
I gave this pain your name
and it made me holy.
When my heart failed, my eyes,
my breath, I carved visions of your promises
in my skin.
When I could no longer speak
I spoke with you,
but you never told a soul--
the awful lilies, Lord, the horrible roses.
You knew the weight of their perfume
would be my undoing.
And now they bring me pink angels,
silk shoes, golden chalices of your blood,
and take my silence
for a blessing.
I figured that since today is St. Catherine's feast day, I'd dust off this classic from all the way back in September. Looking at it now, I have absolutely no idea what the title means or why I chose it. I'm open to suggestions.
Index by artist Ariana Page Russell.
Darling, I told you already:
Don’t think of me leaving,
Don’t think of me going. Think,
Dear heart, of the staggering size of the world, the
Doors I have never even seen.
Today dawned bright blue and he appeared, a
Daedalus to take me to the sun. There was no
Decision, no breath of doubt. We are
Dizzy in the sky the night left behind;
Our hearts dart toward it, dancing, darling—
Don’t think of me leaving.
Deirdre Departing With Her Deer by Cassandra Barney, created for "D" of The Alphabet Show
Hard work, love that endures hardship, defiance, protection
I never saw my mama’s feet sleeping.
Mornings they trod a triangular path:
garden, fire, table.
Mid-day she walked in circles sewing,
mending our dresses as we read our lessons.
As the sun set she strode through the fields,
barefoot among the thistles to bring the cows in.
When the stars made pinpricks
in the black ocean above, her heels creaked
a half-moon of floorboards around our big bed.
I dreamt every night of fragrant weeds and grasses,
and knew that when I woke
the footsteps below would always be hers.
Thistle by Cassandra Barney
The dachshund marching in brisk laps
around the kiddie pool,
serious as a drill sergeant.
The Pac-Man faces on the CT scan instruction panel,
ordering her to breathe,
A full orchestra, chugging electric guitars,
a sweet choir soprano wailing
and bellowed incantations in broken Scandinavian English.
The salamander's expectant smile,
the cuttlefish's coy wave, the cool string tail
of the brown mouse and her twitching whiskers.
The frequent midday discovery
of sideways underpants.
The boy beside her.
The teething Japanese baby at the sushi bar,
gleefully gnawing a raw baby octopus,
tiny purple legs dangling from her mouth.