Atlas & Alice | Issue 7, Summer/Fall 2016
Water everywhere. Breath as Grail. Muscles are reaching, reaching, reaching. Legs fly and hands push. Back to the water, to the primordial venue, bleachers and benches and chairs, plastic or metal or wood. Blood duty. Survival of the fittest with an audience. Whistles, clocks, futures appointed and bestowed. Bodies shivering, pressed close together, skin the outfit, the costume, chlorine the perfume. Medals our charms. I call this now “the time before.” But Diana soon collects her disciples, bleeding them by month. Arrows keep us in her sights. Leather jacket and opaque eyes. I fell for you, Persephone whispered in the dark. A private hell, tasting fertility, a love precipitated of heated earth and frosted sky.
Women were first to roam, to move, to wander. The moon arcs through darkened sky, scattering us like the cold glitter of starlight. I went first into the woods. The moon did not light my path, but hung like a ripped smile behind me. Feet among the grass and wheat, then sand and stone, then sea and shell.
Cool ceramic, worn smooth with use and time and hands. Tile painted, forgotten, chipped, discovered in dirt, rubbed clean with a cotton cloth, placed inside; a return. Patterned lace. Quaker lace. Buttercream with age, with years stored in cedar chests. Awoken in the light, bleached by machine and sun. Gold ringed around my finger. Found items: neon shoelaces, jars swollen with coins, toys left behind books, a box filled with letters and stubs and cards and something else I dare not let out. A collection of narratives, of stories, of tells. Ghosts saturate my bones, take up space in my ribcage as grandmothers, aunts, cousins press in, whispering, whispering. Bells that warn. Water sloshes in my veins. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Long nose. Faulty heart. Crooked toe. Crooked back. We’ve all seen this story before. What we all become in the old tales. In the end, I am not divided into siblings, children. I am strung by the bow’s string, a papered marionette. Knees ache and crack. My house never left the woods. I whisper pages when I snore. And I am preserved. I am used. Never finished product. One star in a greater assembly, one day to die and dim, scattering matter for reinvention.