Rebecca Hart Olander & Elizabeth Paul
Head in the clouds,
fills her brain,
or it’s a busy hive.
her calves are spiked
to catch the wind,
an amulet hangs
below her voice box,
above her heart.
When I look at her
form, hands up and
palms open, she
seems like any young
woman in awe
and fear of the world.
Cave dweller, she lasts
and lasts and lasts.
She curls inside
the skin of a wolf
in dreams, runs over
within its pelt,
howls in concert
until the night is lit
with their twin sorrows,
which are the same
how the stars make us
feel small, how flowers
in summer make us
long for beauty
even while they bloom,
how to send ourselves
into the swirl
and be understood.
Beasts of Burden
Girls are always being made to hold something
almost too big for them to manage, and to make
that burden sing, to force a smooth ride. Mares too,
to be bridled, to carry that weight. The bit. The harness.
The cruel trick is to make it look easy, to look beautiful
while doing the work. Braided mane, braided hair.
Glimpse inside the liquid eyes a twinness, heady
with fallen apples, damp knees in the grass, white with wild
fear, foaming, sugar-cubed and bribed, loping bareback
by a stream so dry they could almost weep for a drink
of cool water there, with their bent heads and open mouths.
Their long necks and mysterious bulk. Their sloping
low-fruit bellies. Inside they are coal caves deep
with sadness, acres of occupied territory, fields of
untested hay. I’m not going to tell you the answer.
If I die, you have to dig a hole and hoist me in.
Till then, I’ll flick and swat if I feel like it, sway if I feel
like it, gallop down the sidewalk like I did when I was
eight and didn’t care what people thought of me. No,
that’s wrong. I didn’t know people thought of me at all
when I pretended I was a horse and felt it was true.
Well, losing one’s self was the fashion,
turning the wrists and pointing the toes
along with everyone else,
constructing a pained expression
that might also pass for ecstasy,
dissolving into black.
Our god we named stress
and proudly counted our hours
when we came up for air.
Might as well be fish
and tried to breathe through our skin,
Not so different from water or aluminum foil.
Tried to rub our edges away.
Could almost be an Italian villa, Egyptian artifact,
a flower, a spade, zombie bate.
We lay prostrate.
Interdigitating zipper teeth.
Awaited the slider.
Caraway seeds, record grooves,
the grunts of worms moving earth
So we tossed about, trying to be everything,
either individual or shaped from a continuous coil
moves along the tape
but if it fails