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epistles to hans christian andersen
the gnaw and growl of danger always half-
lucid in your stories i read as a child
make me think the moon is sneering at me.
it’s incredible how often you walk into an
elevator and find it no longer there, learning
there’s little safety in words or the time you
spend spinning thread around your fingers.
some staircases seem to spiral into
secret folds in the sky, make you prone
what sort of leer did you hold upon
your face in the groundless parts of
the night when you spread powder
upon your sheaves glimmering with fresh ink
and found your nose dusted with
why sea foam?
why solubility of spirit
in the wake of heart break,
the sea water and bracken dissolving
on the crucifix hanging outside a
fisherman’s lodge? did the mermaid
sigh when her scales entered the cascade,
tears furling like pearls, like rosary
beads to the ship’s bow?
what is that leaking out of the back of my head?
can you save it in a bottle for a rainy day or
use it to lubricate the railroad tracks through Minsk
where they buried skeletons among the rattle?
sometimes i find myself spilled all over
the place, but you seem to have ointment
and unctions for these kinds of conditions--
a hot sleep beneath straw, woolen blankets
and a roaring fire you had to starve for.
with the slippers and the snow, no wonder we
light fires and cling together when the stars
are cloaked in the manacles of an
impoverished night. the tender
miracles one finds in a single flame,
that tiny death you illuminate from
a window in Odense.
the burn it leaves when you snuff it out.
such words as thistle stick upon the
tongue and worry the softness of whispers.
rag witches and bog queens and puppeteers
dance something pretty when spoken
and leave your mouth slack,
loosening the tightness of the throat
with their wicked sounds, the ken
of prickers in the mind.
cold kisses and glass splinters that pain
you in the crying. i think of you as
tear-less, too much folly for fretting.
but you scraped the eyes of children
with the special combs of forgetfulness
and watched to see which cloud their
eyes darted to, snagging the sky
with their imaginations. your stories read as
object lessons to distract from
the poverty of friendlessness and loss,
waiting for the crows to say something helpful
and explain to us how the heart turns
blue even when we can see clearly with both eyes,
how we become blind to the beginning
how much do you know about
within-ness, the feeling of entrapment
inside a living thing? does breathing
sound different from the other side
of a rib cage. does one story swallow
the sprites in your stories
punctured one side of my face
so my smile’s always crooked
and my cheek seems to pucker
around a thought, an incantation.
the crocuses sprung
up just as i blanched from reality,
began putting socks on rocks to protect
them from the snarls of winter.
i fretted pine needles and dirty leaves
through my hair and thought to depart
for the woods, away from the stings of
adulthood. but i imagine you come to me
weathered by similar sojourns in the
wild and say, “but this is reality,
my child.” and i would snuggle
closer, even though both of us know
i am no longer a child and haven’t been so
for some time, ever since the noose
and the fire lily began screaming to me
in my sleep.
what is the soil and sediment of your blood?
i’ve thought my insides run slow with
the thickness of virginia clay, the gravel
that collects under the skin after a hard
day of walking. maybe we don’t share the
same quality of flesh, even if we have the
same birthday. when you were
born, did the windows blow open and the
doctors thank you for bringing a breeze?
i slept half-way through my delivery,
unable to shake the dreams from my
waking limbs. i suppose it is the same
as when young elk shed the velvet of winter,
the downy skin of their horns
falling away in bloodied patches
and the grown-ups, seeing our distress, lean
over and say, “don’t worry. it doesn’t hurt
#Unreal #Poetry #Photography #Ekphrastic #Folklore #Imagery #FairyTales
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