William Upon William
A hooded gust splits across a vulgar chimney
and waves up over the mantle, marble carvings, all white
and veiny meaningless reliefs, inhaled by scores
of Sarahs remembering the same river, the hanging
drone of day, their same selves in the one low boat,
and more arriving in fall, docile
as uniformed jellies. The painting of a blank dog
on a yolk yellow bergère each girl will claim
and fold once like a locket in her guts. Below, the fireplace
is matte black, a lung of soft grit, sucking from them
when miss opens the door. What part of trust
is the day’s part? The night rinses it, then anger feels
a little farther to go. Knives aligned all over the oak
of the refectory. Pointless bulges in each baluster.
The automatic drift of miss, finger crook on the cap
of the newel, the main steps too slippery for pupils,
that parrot blue corridor accusing steadily, a flag
for the cross boy in a blurry brown print. The hall
will later be admired, no one’s jail, tourists’ lost
things not reached after, say a coin kicked under a chest
with pierced apron snapped in places from the vacuum.
And the picked lock of the stable’s half door
unused, now separated from its tall animal
and the pupil who came here and cried on her flank.
Day Pit Fire
I love how the cuff clings, I can say love now,
it’s just me. The echo talks to rocks
and outer space answers. I sound far away.
Melt me up, living scum, in a boulder’s yellow
creeping coat. Here’s just false flesh in an alcove,
an armless recess, like hair space around the neck,
long-lived, the time before an embrace that doesn’t
ever happen, one growl of all smallnesses, and I say it feels
good to be pulp this time, it feels good to not be the axe,
but he frowns and hands me the comb and potion.
Ice needles shift. The raw end of a worm. I coax a snapping
from my long hair. The thin sun of earlier
is eaten in clouds, clouds like a promise
hid under a ridge between ridges, like clammy smoke
sunk in the flume of a word in a book,
where there is only up and it is night and night
and night and a tent, a thin tent, clear and thin in night
then quick uncountable knocking. I keep waking up
but I am not here yet. The branch transforms
and I breathe it. The tent is so thin. What men
want next to them is quiet sea coal satin,
in long waves. But, me, I want that too.
A panel of fixed minutes moving through minutes
with my face pressed in your dark blue shirt and quiet;
a hollow awards the needy, even a corner or
the end of some nice talking, it awards, remember.
A block of prairie then facades. Cowardice surfaces
like an alarm. Toll booth, green neon and green pines.
I remembered my whole body listening to you confess.
A pain, a drop in my middle like someone waking in me,
what world I left! Rude blankets I never looked under.
Molly Brodak is the author of A Little Middle of the Night (University of Iowa Press, 2010) and three chapbooks of poetry. She lives in Atlanta and edits the journal Aesthetix.