And ships appeared—
just wisps, iffy membranes.
Time’s whole hinge
she sees them and the island changes hands.
Petrels shriek and break time,
shriek and break.
Some city approaches
out of the waves,
she chided herself, surely not.
The foam of fronds bristled shoreward,
hi! the flesh of the story, the actual men,
come to sow their bottomless delusion.
She rises, dusts her knees,
a black fruit drops in her trunk as if snipped.
away in wind.
was measured in knives.
The ships grew.
Cells comb cells but never touch.
A boot floats on
Tubs of ship biscuit parade ashore
flanked by blackrats
and nude amens.
Fog walled them away
from the banks of unchristian trees,
flag drooping with repellant electrons,
this their moment, a bit weak.
Processing a sunnier thrust, the priest scribbles.
Time made into a fence. That’s storytelling.
Poor and simple
The beach powders the conquistadors,
a dirty papoose, a rill rising
to sun, the key banner, they point their
black alabaster branches, this their moment
have they fumbled
by not shooting.
they can’t imagine me.
They stand forever
before the gulf.
They go into the gulf.
Stand, they stand
across from unrecognizable kin
in quiet possession
it was written
A lady stabs
a silver nail into the sugar.
Up close the sack fumes
an almost human smell.
It’s so nice, just some
for tea, trembles,
the dainty cates, marchpanes, flighty sauces, chocoulates
sap in circuits, a little pain. Blue lace
knots across the window in a noose, porcelain shivers.
Ocean paths land here. Our terrorists rib-deep
in a south Georgia fen, sunk in armor or wet lead cotton coats:
her snug manor
is their packed pocket. The teen sinks.
She lets the teen sink.
Passes fetters in shop windows.
In the Lord’s hands,
she has none of her own,
wiggle like the cove.
Stooped to read
gross figures and desperate gestures
on the rock face. Hybrids,
everything in this country is a chipper mash
of God’s hoard.
A sweet yellow toffee shored up in nooks—
and I ate but now sick.
Crystallized packrat urine, gems.
Thing, person, scape, beast, to use.
As if the goal,
as if the goal was to
never reach the goal.
Sand scoots helplessly.
When we killed—
when slaves kill their owners
first they take and put,
put on the hats and pants of the dead.
After a thousand years maybe they take off these hats.
In my life, this is the only hat.
There’s a word for that and I don’t care what it is.
A thousand proof, the whiteness
of the plateau, the tract, the veil,
the goal, the going—
farm, church, wet meat, songs. They just do not love you back.
They just do not.
Then a past thing does not stay in the past
and it is mistaken for something special.
Civilization is made in little minutes,
in the dark. Some gets
Both witless rock peak and
wet gully dumped with antique trash.
Both tree and
axe handle of wood.
Both nacre and poke, both love.
Both whole me
Molly Brodak is the author of A Little Middle of the Night (U of Iowa Press, 2010) and three chapbooks of poetry. Her memoir, Bandit, is forthcoming from Grove/Atlantic in 2016.