She crouches on the shelf, cramped, where she hid the blanket that hid her.
Spots of brown-red blood, bold on the blanket that hid her.
Her fresh skin brushstrokes against that blanket that hid her.
She charts the X’s on her left thigh, one cut for each failure
to snuff beneath the blanket that bid her live.
(She is sorry her gripped words chipped into every held hand;
nothing could have rid her of that then.)
In another version, not X’s
but goat-willows with fuzzy buds
like ones that grew near the field
where it happened; she loved
to brush the fur against her face
all over it felt like love.
She cut love
into her anxious thigh
so it could carry her. Now,
her forefinger traces
the vines the way a mother
traces her baby’s jawline. She lingers
on the buds,
She segments the blanket-that-bid-for-her into palm-sized pieces,
calligraphies one letter onto each piece as many times through the alphabet
until each piece has a name. Arranges the pieces into a poem
no one will ever read: a narrative poem with a speaker, unspeakable.
She gently pricks her left forefinger, anoints each piece, like the Passover ritual,
how the finger dips into wine, dabs the wine onto a plate once for each plague
until her people were set free. Like the ritual over Sabbath candles, she circles
her open hands three times over the words, gathers the air above them, draws her palms
to her face, closes her eyes, and sings:
blessed are you, O Lord our God; bless this one who is still, here
With an Amen, she jumbles the shards, sews them to form
a skirt, letters facing outward. Wears it to remind herself a sparrow’s song is always
the same— and isn’t.
- 109: NO THEME 12with C Maling & N Rhook 108: DEDICATIONwith L Patterson & L Garcia-Dolnik 107: LIMINALwith B Li 106: OPENwith C Lowe & J Langdon 105: NO THEME 11with E Grills & E Stewart 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones