Hand Me My Leather
BY GALE MARIE THOMPSON
If I am past mercy, it is only to show
that I can invent laws, too.
Drawn inside the deep pink
of public throat, bless of chainlink,
I remove ten drops from the cup
with my fingers. It makes more sense
to be sacerdotal, to give
frantic apologies for death
and tumors, assault and freelessness.
Deserve a white chant we lesson
and lesson, giving out noble shots
to the chest. We want penance
to be a true seam, rosary
a sentence so blooming we carry it
within us like a key. This is no
easy landscape, bruise of walnut oil
dropped from above. We watch
and still beauty also watches.
Most of what I felt when crossing
the frozen lake was nothing, but still
I made myself my own model
of bravery. I don’t know revenge.
I look for aphorisms to wake to,
ask the machine of myself to pull at me
in a way that produces a cry. I want to know
the places where darkness was bought,
what plagues took to an iron chair
like seasons: one by one, after one,
then another one. I am still frightened
by peace. Not even a crocus can be beautiful
without forgetting. The trail is still flooded
with the suffering of others. We remove
ten drops from the bitter throat.
We remove ten drops from the bitter throat.
Pattern of Behavior
BY GALE MARIE THOMPSON
It is hard to write on the thumb you’ve bitten to death, hard to name any story for what it is. We are reaching out to those with similar unsettling experiences, I read. To establish a pattern of behavior. For the moment, let’s call it theater of vindication. Let’s call it the bittergreen of dread. Loud as a pushing throat, a line of questioning I want to want to be asked. The body keeps its bittergreen and knows nothing, how a symbol becomes too soon an elbow, too-strong hands in memory circling my undressed neck. An archive wants nothing to do with me. Any memory I catch now is a feral flinging: (1) He rag-carried me across a parking lot. (2) He made sure I knew what all he could do to me. If he wanted. When the bittergreen cracks, no one is there: this story’s water only destroys. What kind of courage does that reward, to find some little truth? It isn’t my courage. I don’t own it. But I have held my own body in my hands as if it were a smear of paint, of blood. I have had to smile because I am friendly, held shut tight and hoped I was wrong. Smile because I am a rite, a pretty thing on my knees, and now there is a monument to the violet room he holds court in. The gag is instructive. I wipe dark oil from myself. I dry roses for grief, dry roses for witches. I prod to find sensation. We know the end is near when the gods finally arrive. Time to smother your glass rage, time to draw up its board and tank. I am so sorry to keep standing. I have stopped singing, and that is my crime.