It’s strange waking up as a woman after years
of being chair, mattress, horse, cart,
water bug treading the surface of a pond.
My face was a crescent moon that must wax
instantly full. My brain required
a magic saliva dipper.
Sometimes I’d be a log to be sawn
so please sit down, sometimes a goat—
Quick! I hear trip-trapping on the stair!
My words were exactly right or wrong.
My tears a plague bringing everyone down.
My absence a cruelty not to be borne.
Tell me to leap like a couch on fire.
Tell me to bend like a folding grave.
The shape you give is all the news I need.
Library in Summertime
Slats and trees produce dapples. Gazpacho produces aura of Bloody Mary. Dripping sound produces fear of mosquitoes. Children argh in the distance. One on the ground pushes one in the air and enters the air himself. They share. Every library should have vegetables, seeds, sewing kits, sound of wind in the leaves. Smell of greenery tinged with bug spray. Texture of old raw wood against the hand. Something anise-like waving from the bed, trying to hear what the trees can’t catch, their sense of hearing mostly touch, their way of listening comprised of aversion and exchange: the shy crowns, the mineral-sucking roots, the leaves like careless children—all water and light, we have what we need, we need, we need. The roots chugging away, dispensing, forming networks, trading favors. The fungi, childless parents, subsuming the world while keeping to themselves.
Excerpts From “Choreode”
Long standing with others has taught you when to move. Sliding your shoulders from beneath the draped arms and vine-tangle of the past, stepping with care over thorny canes, you advance ever so slowly, still partly tree, unused to this rite with its idea of future as another place, of time having places instead of selves. The forest moves in you, with you.
Place your own hand on your shoulder, and another.
Your hands want to be together, travel west as your hips lean east.
One hand is troubled into fist, drawn windingly down to earth.
The other stays near, holding this grief which brings the body down, rolling, giving in to itself.
But from here we can see the stars. We rise and grow moon-wise like an orchid in a closet.
Curve of arm and cup of hand, emblem of the stardust we are.
Now face to face. You place your hand on my shoulder, my thigh; I place your hand on my forehead, my hip; we mold each other into the shape of healing.
When I slip away you remain in the shape of my need.
A slight shift of weight to one leg, and the other is free to open the body, which pulls the rooted leg free. Rebalanced, the body can jump, and the rebound lifts your arms into a shape. One arm enters the shape defined by both and turns it inside out, bringing the body with it. Joyful in this reversal, the body flings itself up like a leaf, spins down into a new sense of weight, becomes the rock on which it lands, fluttering and damp. Rest. You are rock, sand, creature of sand, pushing the sand aside. You are a stepping thing, rising on your legs. You know your height and move within it. Your arm sweeps your back, thighs, feet. You lean and love yourself down, sweep the floor with yourself like a child.
Amy Eisner teaches creative writing at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), helping undergraduate visual artists develop as poets and MFA students integrate writing into their art practices. Her poetry has appeared in dozens of journals, including Fence, The Journal, and Nimrod, and has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She enjoys poetry games and cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Image: Alvesgaspar, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons