(Published in Poetry International, Issue 11, 2007)
Beloved, thou art fair…also our bed
Into the flesh of our thighs we drew
promises under the pines. The dirt rose around us
in the wind. Now my bed has grown greener—
you’re bound to another. Could we return
our caress without blood-
Tell me, o thou whom my soul loveth,
where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon.
Tell me, what feeds you—is it the moon?
Golden sphinx stealing your eyes
away from me to sleep. What kneeling siren
pulls your curls, lost sailor boy? Whose hands
will dream inside of you? Which poet
with her pen—whose horse in battle?
Rise up my love, my fair one and come away,
for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
Remember moving to this small town in December
sky, my fist tight around a glass, the plane
trembling, my fingers on your lips, fumbling
towards spring, guitars, breast strokes,
towards painting you in blues, our throats
taut, breathing through sheets
of rain. Blow upon my garden.
My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth
among the lilies. Remember our dining room,
my fingers on ivory playing Debussy, you
kneeling before me, your tongue inside—the way
we rocked. Remember dripping
in the lake—My beloved put his hand
by the hole of the door—you were the first
to take me in lilies, to break me open
as a piece of pomegranate without cutlery,
without shadows cast on water.
I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse…
gathered myself with my spice, I found
lamb’s ear, felt its soft spine, remembered
nights without pillows. I have eaten honeycomb
with my honey and your flesh
in the bathtub, drunk wine with my milk, our fists
full of chicken, mandolins serenading, salted
fingers twisting, my face to your spine.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
My boy lover with her breasts
and her hair like the brambles
and her fist like a beast.
My boy lover with her hand
as big as any man, her face as sure.
You milked me before I knew
I was a woman.
You reached in and caught
three red herrings to take
in your body of caress, our bodies
crossing—Oh that thou wert as my brother,
that sucked the breast of my mother—
you were my sister and my lover.
You sucked another’s breast:
mine. Comfort me with the fruit
that Eve took, for I am sick of love.
Make sweet the errata
of the bite drawn deep
in your throat. Break open
my sleep, my trembling hands.
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by Erika Kulnys