How convenient to carry a home on one’s back, I
think, disregarding heft and plumbing and the shape
of rooms too hollow to feel. Yesterday a box of African
chapbooks migrated to my doorstep, and I plucked
yellowing leaves from the tomato plant by the poetry
shack. Marine snails constitute the majority of snail
species, but we count first what we can see. Everything
turns–the days buzz by like male blackchins swooping
through their pendulum air-dance, and I tally my
diminishing hours from the safety of these walls.
Heliciculture is another word for snail farming, but
reminds me of stars spiraling wildly above my roof
each night, spewing poetic fire throughout the cosmos.
The neighbor mows her lawn and I observe the wind
stepping from treetop to treetop, another sign of the
earth’s continued rotation. Their slime permeates human
cosmetics to minimize premature skin aging, and was
once used medicinally to soothe coughs (I write this
as mucus slides down my throat, a response of the
lung’s filtration system to histamines). There is much
to consider about the intricacies of harvesting slime.
Most snail species consume plants, but a few are
predatory carnivores, which leads to questions
about their prey. Cooked in butter with garlic, served
with a dry white? I spear one, contemplate texture
and move on to the next, leaving behind no visible trail.
* * *
My poem “Snails” was published on Vox Populi in October 2017. Many thanks to founder and editor Michael Simms for giving this poem a home.
The forgotten poem, existing in title only: Yellow.
Which is a bruise at three weeks, or memory’s shade in autumn.
In what black folder does it hide? In which blinding light?
I take comfort in primaries, lose sleep at the edges.
Where fraying begins and annotation dwindles to scrawled lines.
Above the bones and flesh of the Egyptian gods. Above my books.
Within these lost minutes. Those moons, bereaved. The hours.
Desire germinates even after our rainless decades. Yellow, again.
The color of sulfur (the devil’s realm) or the traitor’s door.
Of cowardice and warning. Of aging and decay.
How to recover what’s sifted away, the residue of our loves?
Each day more bits break off, never to be reattached.
But you, I blend with the sky, perfecting trees, the grass.
* * *
“Yellow, Lost” was published in wildness, Issue no. 10, in October 2017. wildness is an imprint of Platypus Press, which published my work Interval’s Night, a mini-digital chapbook, in December 2016 in their 2412 series. If you’re not familiar with wildness, check it out. In fall 2016 Poets & Writers named it in their article Nine New Lit Mags You Need to Read.
My poem “Helsinki” can be found at Panoply. It was inspired in part by a Facebook thread on which editors commented on what caused them to instantly reject poems. One said beginning a poem at a window was cause for rejection. Hence the first line.
In this interview, Jane Hirshfield reads her poem “My Eyes” from The Beauty, and discusses the “window moment” in poetry. I can’t remember when I first fell in love with her poetry (2000? 2001?), but she remains one of those writers essential to my life.