Earth Apple

By | 15 May 2023

You stack his limbs, like kindling, on an eggshell mattress
study his mottled skin. Yellow and bruised
as though bitten by late blight. Hanging
each breath’s a little dust-cloud
his halo
settles into sediment, raining
spittle flecks on starchy sheets. You peel them back
like paperbark
and find him buried underneath —

a lumpy tuber,
skin full of solanine,
hidden from the sun too long, until even bone and gristle’s
gone soft, spine folding back
into a fetal form: waning
crescent moon, a sickle,
something perennial, nested,
wrinkling, and almost ready to rot.

He lays in the darkness,
you stand under pearl-light, holding
his marble palms, the colour of a storm cloud. Asking them
do these fingers miss burrowing,
like earthworms, in the dirt?
do they remember pressing palm-to-palm,
to pray?
to please?
do they remember how to pinch,
ripe cherries, from spring-green bows?
were they ever painted,
rose-red1, in protest?
or were they already tawny and congealed?

You wash his limbs and bruises,
his hypha, every fold,
nail bed, axilla, callous, bristles, lenticels,
his flaccid penis, anus, navel. Tenderly,
thinking of the Persian word for potato —

You are a candle burning
in the oppressive arms of a man2
woman —
perfectly imperfect, baring fuzzy flesh,
caesarean scar, your eyes
lapis lazuli
bathing milk-tears
woman —
you bellow
in the language of the birds,
even your resistance is poetry
woman —
you cut your hair
tie it around a wax-waist,
your flame burns
brighter from a shorter wick
and this man becomes your shadow.

Tying stone-things to your lily-white feet
to walk upon roiling waters.
Sticking blood-things over the black-eyed CCTV beast
Humbaba, hah hah hah!
he’s blinded in his own cedar forest.
Burning fire-things to purify this city,
white-ash and lime mortar
veiling lid and temple.

You bury the soft bones of your lover, oppressor,
brother, your father and your son;
and from the grave of a potato
new life grows.

  1. ‘Rose-red’ is in reference to the poem ‘Red Rose’ by Forough Farrokhzad, translated by Sholeh Wolpe.
    The line ‘Rose, red like a flag/–a revolution.’
  2. Line from the poem ‘Wind-Up Doll’ in Sin: Selected Poems of Farrokhzad, translated by Sholeh Wolpe.
This entry was posted in 109: NO THEME 12 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Related work:

Comments are closed.