As morning bees spring brightly,
I watch the day
unwind from the coil of night.
I step around the web outside the kitchen door
with threads woven into the shape of a eye,
open and glistening.
The grass carries the burden
of my footprints the same way my skin
knows your fingertips.
We are as close to each other as we allow
ourselves to be. Our softest whispers
can turn love like a wheel.
I don’t know how to rid myself
of this clumsy body, this needy skin,
so I sink my toes in dirt. I run in rain.
I know how to breathe the scent of honeysuckle
and sun on a rock like a salamander,
lazy and blinking.
I don’t know how to pray,
but I know how to cup a firefly in my hand
and watch it crawl to my fingertip
before it lifts its light to the swirling dark.
I woke up with the word Chrysalis in my mouth
and it tasted like cinnamon, distilled and concentrated
in oil. In high school, we carried vials and toothpicks
in our pockets, burned our tongues between classes,
our lips blistered and peeling. It made speech difficult,
reasoning even harder. We mumbled with swollen words.
I wrote my name in the air and it sounded like Gravedigger.
I wasn’t sure I heard right, and it would not
repeat itself even when I begged. Who can argue
with a name that seems to know what it’s talking about.
Obsidian and Silence, Alstroemeria and Forget-Me-Not.
Even Cinnamon has a way with fire.
If you hold a feather under your tongue, you can know
what it’s like to float on air, unstrung and boundless.
The oil of flight tastes a little like Windfall, and Deep Diving
but also Broken Arrow, and Iron Breath and Bitter Weed.
I spit it out, rub it into paste between my fingers.
My own whisper flutters in my hands.
If you know what color C major is, you will always
find a symphony in your closet. When I wear red,
my father hums Mozart. Play E flat minor and Prokofiev’s
landscape of somber greens foreshadow a future
war. A web of deception, sticky and silky, arcs
through skies gray as stones and just as hard.
I want to hold the word Ambivalence in my palm
and carry it to the small corner where you sit alone.
I offer you this – a woven nest lined with fur, discovered
in a hollow of vines; the dusky scent of dry mushrooms;
a smooth raw pearl. A butterfly, wet with effort
and churning with foam, wears eyes on its wings.
What can you see with it?
Ghosts Use Logic to Convince My Mother They Exist
My mother doesn’t believe in ghosts
but the ghosts have other plans.
Whooshes of white light spin around her dark bedroom,
her newly dead brother, a dove freed from pain,
exuberant in new glory.
She is not afraid
but the light keeps her awake. She tells stories
from her childhood, how her brother was a slight child
and sickly, how she busted the noses of bullies
who laughed at his awkward gait. The light fades contented.
At a hotel in Abingdon, we sit in the lobby and listen
to talk about galloping hooves and a woman’s moans.
The Civil War dead limp down hallways, remnants
of their former selves. They stand at attention along paths
outside, leaning for orders never given. They listen,
but are loud in their listening – a rustle, a shuffle, a hiss.
We ask how likely it is to see a ghost
and a woman tells us we’ll never see one if we don’t believe.
Somewhere between the walls, a horse neighs and snorts.
At the cemetery where her brother lies under fresh dirt,
my mother tries to explain the light as some kind of prism
snatched by the moon. In the photo, a man’s figure
stands behind her, his face shrouded in cloud.
When asked to explain, my mother hesitates,
rations her answer with reservations, but the white flash
on her shoulder, in the shape of a hand,
denies any doubt, as does the warmth she remembers
and the damp feeling of loss she carries now.
Sandy Coomer is a poet, mixed media artist, and endurance athlete. Her poetry has most recently been published in Lindenwood Review, Qu Literary Journal, POEM, and Hypertrophic Literary Magazine. She is the author of two collections of poetry: Continuum (Finishing Line Press), and The Presence of Absence (Winner of the 2014 Janice Keck Literary Award for Poetry). A third collection, Rivers Within Us, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press. She lives in Brentwood, TN where she grows blackberries and takes cell phone pictures of flowers.