BY CAROLINE CREW
It was so figurative, until it wasn’t. I know better now
than to believe men will not think a ditch into a hole
and a thought into conquest. All us mud-slung wretches.
All of us, us and all of us, them. Do you remember
what we wanted? There was a spectrum, I think:
a blue light blinked and the us yearned towards it, stuck.
A red light blinked and the them yearned toward it, stuck.
For rats in a maze the incentive is simple: hunger.
Memory squeezes through tonight’s sharp want—air
space to call my own. I forget if there was an experiment
for us—how frozen can the human heart become
before shattering? The us, the them. I played stuck-
in-the-mud as a child, but it was always concrete:
too late to be let loose, already too late to release
from the bear-traps drawn of tongues. Did we want
what they wanted? I am too deep below. No more below,
no more over the top. Before the entrenchment, a voice
not yet deluged by dirt.
Now, I swallow my own tongue for touch.
This Long Arc
BY CAROLINE CREW
Progress makes its prim trash—
dark plastic cannisters full
of our unlearning. I ask
the worst questions
and it is not shame. It is not
shame when the petals have dropped
and the layered poppy is stark
in ugliness. Trash is a sacrament.
Take of my debris so you may
eat. Drink of my ignorance
so you may learn. My hair lost
its curl in upstate New York—
a flat earth theory. It is not shame
in the unshielded light to outline
the dress I wore back then, minimal
but beaded with the jewels
of my most rotten thought.
I want to be better, I tell anyone
but no one holds me to that bet.
Instead it’s self-portrait after
self-portrait: my profile shaded
in ash, curve of cheek rounded
in vegetable peel. A face of unidentified
viscera. Better tucked away
with my gilded regrets.