Whitetail

They’re feeding while we sleep. Conifers, acorns, sweet clover. Crepuscular. They must tell each other stories in whatever tongue they speak. Each fawn makes its own distinct bleat. Does the mouth makes a sound for gun, arrow, berry, or flee? Arrested between the bramble and the suburban street. Cars slide slowly as in a funeral processional. Our eyes meet. Who knows which way her children are? Or the lover she’s running to—his velvet antlers unraveling? Flocked by the night, I want to slip inside her. Ears translucent in   headlights, the white rings halo or ghostly bruise of eye. Front legs in the wood, hind on the concrete. It is so very hard to leave you. Mornings we made love my daughter was late for school. I would let her drink hot chocolate and watch TV. It’s true I cared little for rules, for anything but you. At dusk, at dawn, I was in my pajamas. The buck hanging from the rafters of the garage. My mother took our picture, my hand on his flank. His coat faded red and still warm. Later I would refuse to eat his neck, then his heart. In that photograph, I am frozen. I am proud of what my father has done. I have not been so proud. I have opened my wounds for all the curious to see. I have wandered naked amongst engines and headlights. I have let you make a feast of me. How our favorite muscle can rage within its sea—one might name the ribs like the arc of a boat. But they call it a cage, don’t they? Gun, arrow, berry, flee. I know these woods well. This way to the creek. This way—the massive pine split by lightning. North a field where you can find a brick cast by the old factory. I could point her to safety. I could whisper in those silken ears. I could taste her.

 

Velocity (or Bliss)

Open the tiny lockets of Bleeding Hearts, I want to be buried alive under a pile of petals. I want to sip a Juniper Crush and clothe my sex in a stitch of Queen Anne’s Lace. It’s Jacaranda. That’s the purple we loved, adorning the branches of Lisbon. But now I will never see the cherry blossoms of your Kyoto. Or pick frangipani again in Belize. All the flowers we traveled. The roadside bouquets and stone fruit pies of the Northeast. The air is choking, the throat is sweet. Oh rose hips, oh sticky peach. I try to explain our apocalypse I knew I was playing with fire. I don’t say I would do it again and again. We forage in the woods for what is delicious and what is poison. How could you have been any brighter? You picked nutmeg, you ground cardamom into my tea with your bare hands, placed a curl of cinnamon by the bed. When I was seven a wisp of a girl moved next door. At dusk she would strip to her panties and pink camisole and lie down in the middle of the street—her small, near-nakedness a kind of beacon, a siren calling to cars come closer, kill me. Her faith a kind of patient wound. She waited for rapture. I couldn’t stop watching. Did you ever notice the root of hurtling is hurt? That’s what I think every time I speed down the highway, forced to skip the exit that would lead me to your house. The highway on which I counted five dead deer this summer. Always belly up, the white pelt like a flag, the body surrendered. My long-legged, stunned sisters. Those headlights coming over them like desire.

 

Crewel

I’m busy. Blackberries everywhere.

The birch tree like a white queen among them,

the worker bees, the briars breeding furiously.

Look at that fat jewel, the bramble,

its blood sweet on my tongue.

 

I don’t care what they say.

 

I can hear my mother in her pink halter-top

laughing with the neighbor. Sun caught

in the ice of her tea sparkles across the lawn.

She wears cut-offs and her hair like a child,

two braids down the back.

 

In an hour or two I will be lost.

 

There is an old pick up knee deep

in what’s left of the creek.

Both doors rusted open as if

lovers fled the water seeping in

mid-kiss, a hand on her breast.

The lady’s Sunday shoes and hem

of her best dress wet.

 

Oh prisoner, oh pretty miss.

 

I know something about wanting

like a kiss that cuts this way and that.

There is a nest of thorns

and a bird, a scavenger jay.

 

Blue as sky, as the veins singing

inside me, see how he stitches

all scratches and feathers,

his fine handiwork, crewel

like a ruby collar round my neck.

 

I want to make a pie. I want to eat

the whole wrecked world, peel

back the mottled pelt of the rabbit,

how tender its loins, how tiny its heart.

 

When you cry your eyes grow huge.

I watch the water pour

as if from a cup.

 

Close the car doors. Lock them shut.

Kiss me again and again. My thighs

berry, your nipples thorn.

 

My best dress is all wet.

The hem is torn. Someday

we will just be a story.

 

That’s what I’m afraid of.

 

There was once a creek here,

a creek and an acre of blackberries.

There was. And there isn’t

anymore.

Photo by Sofía Salom

Eve Alexandra

Eve Alexandra’s book The Drowned Girl was selected by C.K. Williams for the 2002 Wick Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Harvard Review, The Salon, and American Poet, the Journal of the Academy of American Poets. She teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Vermont
where she co-directs the Integrated Fine Arts program.

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