The Lamb’s Wet Nurse

My friend’s mother found God
at the bottom of a swimming pool.
All cracked ribs and breast milk,
she drowned and her nipples swelled
like the eyes of hanged Men.
She willed them outward,
pumped into blue,
expressed to Him so He would be full.
 
*
 
And God said,
I’ve never seen a woman so free
to share herself. My mouth
is already around you.
 
*
 
She swung softly
through the deep end–
chlorinated water tasted of grapes
and midnight feedings.
 
*
 
Eve checked the temperature
that day and complained
the heat was too far beneath
the trees and the snakes
would be thirsty
for more of whatever she would give.
She knows that they know
it has never been enough.

Orchids

If I could rest my face among the roots
of strangler figs, I would cast myself
high above the earth and call
upon the orchids to bring me down.
War blooms in purple and deep brown
bruises. A nighttime of locked doors,
barred windows and pale skin.
Wrap me in bark until I become it.
I am floorboards and the orchids
sprout here, dance with themselves,
twirl their ghosts around a ballroom,
staining me.

Search Party

I put this begging in my mouth
and ask it to wet my tongue.
I ask to find my sister before it all–
to wrap her in a warm blanket, stroke her hairline.
Beads of sweat gather there.
I ask to trace them, rugged across
her pubescent forehead.
Rugged as it tries to keep living.
I have never seen my sister naked.
I have never seen her in love.
I have her school picture
hanging by the take-out menu on my fridge.

I put this begging in my mouth
and ask it that when she walk
the halls, she think of me.
I never thought we looked alike
because her eyes were mirrors,
mine closets, keeping sweaters
safe in summer. I ask it
to hold her hand, touch light
pink on her wrists and thighs
and tell her she’s allowed
to swim with sun fish and let them
tickle her feet, let them
find themselves swimming in her
instead of among her.
I put this begging in my mouth and choke.
I ask her to come home.

In the Morning

throat taut but wet  /  things may go but not
too fast  /  always put the spoon
in the sugar /  first  /  never the coffee  /  it will sit
face up  /  on the corner  /  of the sink
spine stretched  /  reaching for the hand
the skin  /  and I need it

I need it to get used  /  to the heat and welcome
being used  /  go through me slowly
burn my mouth  /  but cool as  /  you go down
you were made  /  with silver
and this body  /  and one will consume you
I will lick the spoon dry  /  dip it
right back  /  into the sugar  /  let the granules clump
until I must lick it again.

Cyclical

My sister’s hair is curly.
Blonde. And what I mean is

she never straightens it.
When she sleeps, it dries

into ringlets not unlike
the cicada’s mistakes

left for us to clean
once the earth closes

again. She is thirteen.
What I mean is that

she swarms. She has
a favorite tree

in the yard beside my parents’
house. When she lies

on her back and faces west,
you can’t see her.

What I mean is,
she splits her wrists

as the sun dips
below Ozark hills

and my parents see
the sunset– its reds

its red, its reds, and she’s
ready and her hair is curly

and blonde and on fire
and blending into the grass.

What I mean is, she
buzzes and we swat

and she bleeds and she
stares up, up, up, and

and forgets the world

is open.

I Should Have Read to Her

I should have read to her. We were young, but I was able and knew stories
of fish buried in the backyard, heard the tales of sidewalks and mothers,
of pacing cracks into floors of two bedroom apartments.
Before she was born, I remember hiding from the spit of my father’s anger,
and when my mother left with a black duffel bag, I forgot my name
and I forgot how to expel carbon dioxide from my lungs, and
the hymns my grandmother sang and the way the furnace kicked on
more than usual, the consequence of plastic over windows but God-
dammit I never forgot how the air smelled when she came back.
As if the molecules felt bad they needed to rearrange themselves
once more. Again and again the floor creaked. I should have read to her.
I should have read to her from the pages of a rehab brochure,
told her the black-and-blue plate sitting on the cabinets next to her school picture
was healing from so many times slammed into the sink. It never broke but sometimes I wish it had.

Release

As I took it from the others
I imagined myself
skinning it. Rind too soft
to endure the fingernails
of a woman, white marrow
caked beneath, poised,
graceful. I am grateful
for the sweetness that runs
down my arm, threshold
peeled away consciously
with a dexterous finger.
I regret nothing, skin
forgotten as I bring the fruit
to my mouth and suck on the seeds,
as I spit them like bone
to be held in the hands of soil,
to be abandoned by maggots.