an alphabetic cooling, an altitude for the lungs of fish
The polyphonic meconium moves me. A woman grips handfuls
of table and parts herself, a woman grips and parts and says please.
There will be clams and salt and two streets where we meet. I begin
asking questions, interrogating spacious pronouns, working within
the commanded lie. A voluble filament of skin spools to the floor and a clamor
to claim it. I knew what it was, this unseemly birth,
and I wound the languages into my tongue. Clams to spit and salt
on my molar. Clams and salt and streets and them. Etymology, the way the rain
survives to cross the sea. Imagine my prelude, imagine the redness at the top
of you, the severity of your eye. I was calm. I was becalmed. Critics lifted
calm glasses of wine that were secretly wine – we had championed
a new figure but still I wanted violence. Inside the velvet clatter of suspicion,
all the naked boys wanted to be me. I levied them with trinkets of ivory
and goaded their scorn. Tin buckets and broken heels and eyelashes made of mink.
I made a single summer span three years, walking out with figures cloaked
in chenille and figures topped with folded hats. The constellations were correct.
It took fourteen seconds to appease my body, against and against the rising curtain.
A stampede of women with women and bodies full of tremble – there was brutality,
a fizzed torment of it, a sun-ripened cascade, and then a fit
of gruesome weeping. The woman on the table is still there working, still brandishing,
still demanding analysis of the same dropped spirals of pink.
The naked boys are now fields and the curtain is slashed, ribbons
and garters and guts of soft stack the corners. To end, clams and salt and tin buckets
ringing with skin and the problematic volume of water passing over water.
a longitude for phonics, a settlement of the previous breath
Natasha Burge is a writer from the Arabian Gulf. Previously the writer-in-residence of the Qal’at al Bahrain Museum, she is currently pursuing a PhD and working on a novel. Her work can be found in The Smart Set, Roads & Kingdoms, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Syntax & Salt, and Forge Literary Magazine, among others. More at www.natashaburge.com.