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TWO POEMS by Traci Brimhall

AFTER WAKING FROM A SEVEN-YEAR DREAM It comes in my sleep and then it comes up the river, a tiger shark with its young in its mouth all singing the same commandment—Thou shalt kiss thy mistress’ Song of Solomon thighs and belly and the star tattoo on her left areola.

AFTER WAKING FROM A SEVEN-YEAR DREAM

It comes in my sleep and then it comes up the river,
a tiger shark with its young in its mouth
all singing the same commandment—Thou shalt kiss
thy mistress’ Song of Solomon thighs and belly
and the star tattoo on her left areola. I kiss the pear hanging
between her breasts and every link of the chain
that holds it there. I kiss ghosts in her ears, the ones
who whisper as she enters sleep, that last
wilderness, to escape my wrathful appetites. I tongue
the pillowcase, nibble the headboard, laugh
as I take each pair of panties from her drawer
and treat them to the most abiding pleasures.
I worship the shark until I’m no longer afraid of it,
pull out its teeth, carve my name into confessionals
and bathroom stalls. I kiss the teeth. I kiss my name.
I kiss every woman who accepts my last dream
as payment. We who are about to bind ourselves to trees.
I kiss doorknobs and empty soda bottles, trap
thunder in my mouth and give it to every child
I can catch. We who are about to see God’s wet hair.
I lick cobwebs beneath the saint’s skirt, kiss his legs free
of dust, slander his mortality with my tongue until
I come into the godscape, blind and spitting live flies.

 

SIBYLLINE TRANSLATION

Emergency, I’ll be your siren. Imagination, I’ll be your figment.
Fiction is one way of knowing. Dreams are another.
Meanwhile, the dead trample the psalmic grass as they line up
to ride bald angels like horses through the graveyard.
Lazarused but not yet rising, their bodies crowd the fence
waiting for news of the hereafter while the undertaker collects
a toll from pallbearers. Blame the congregation tithing
wisdom teeth, or the moon which has been full for weeks.
Lunacy, I’m already yours. I made my truth. Consequence,
I’ll be your whipping girl, your pulled hair and burning nerve.
I will help pry open the oracle’s casket. Out of her
whitening mouth, a bright nothing will aerialize, ascend.

 

 

 

Issue 4 Contents                                         NEXT: The Kiss by Kurt Brown

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About Traci Brimhall

Traci Brimhall
Traci Brimhall is the author of Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton, 2012), selected by Carolyn Forché for the 2011 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press, 2010), winner of the 2009 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Slate, The Believer, The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and Best American Poetry 2013. She’s received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the King/Chávez/Parks Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.