Psalm for the World Below
BY NATALIE EILBERT
“Some day, perhaps, remembering even this / will be a pleasure.” —Virgil
In bed, I rub my legs against the dirt I brought into the sheets. The last man who held me tendrils thick with old ceremony. A blight of granules on my skin. What is it I want? I should discuss the sky, trauma’s ocular, or the basement crickets’ godless feathering. They dark when I near. I held his gaze until I couldn’t. Ascending stairs to earth, I, a Dido, flawed to love “a thing forever fitful.” As in the day a lily bloomed on my Chinese Evergreen, white yonic elsewhere, I showed him this gift. It leeches energy, he taught me. Cut it off. I lock-screened my gift as it withered to spit. Outside warms whatever clovers mother the paucity of bees, my landlord ass up in the weeds. When did master gardeners take over my life? Wasn’t anything grown that didn’t need his pluck or his pluck? Great men all stumble hands grasping wineglasses undone by figures to cheaply desalinate oceans to irrigate the Sahara and Amazon. All directives require revenue, a his-pluck to his-pluck to his-. Pinot soaks the flannels of men as they kiss my peached skin. They measure air, they teach me I won’t change a thing. The Fates hold no settlement for us. What is it to change? Home calls. A father speaks, a mother listens. They occur like a sink full of water, voices a cloth submerged and unclean. What is it to vow for that which flaws us together, apart? What is it to say This is the man I love? I shimmy off a dress in the equine rot of night. My cheeks are still supple, they assure me. Richter plays. Listen, he taught me. If he held me, I held him back.
BY NATALIE EILBERT
—after A & D
“People tell me that I am always writing about love. Always, always love. I nod, yes, but it isn’t true—not exactly. In fact, I am always writing about betrayal. Love is the weather. Betrayal is the lightning that cleaves and reveals it.” —Toni Morrison, in her foreword to Love
A window slams open, tears through the house. I know this one, the chain snapping off the mobile home’s door, the stucco-beige void. There isn’t enough rain to quit the corner light turning green. My face waits, lit in blue, stucco cracks through which liquid coppers. I know this one, my face warms to the dull hearth of others’ needs with putrid instinct. The lengths I’ll go to to catch a glimpse of eye. I want to say I washed the feet of my aphasic grandma, the liquid copper moons over her vision. The tear down her cheek was functional, it lubricated. I remained bent forward in position, I know this one, I am the overturned tear, a wrongful grammar, the oh fuck summoning the brackets of sleepy prayers. What was it I was supposed to learn, whose kindness did I nourish? A woman stomps down the hallway, a knife blade sticky and frozen in her fist. It thunders all night. What should I know of betrayal that shelter hasn’t already taught me, a lightning that does not cleave nor reveal its faulty wiring? Her feet darken in front of my door, a door that is no less mine than the power lines pulled down by lifting crows. What of my life would I give to keep going? The endemic settlement of the house cricket? Pure, they silence at my approach, black organs smeared so easily across linoleum. Is it the wet trill that wakes me, or the window we expect to shatter in fits of gust? In the morning, I will close it with steady hands. A latch will fall. I will look at you.
Symptoms of Self-Induced Vomiting
BY NATALIE EILBERT
Isn’t it the mind wants answers to the body, Why the body reflects no answer back, is not Reflection whatever but a wall curved over itself? What isn’t a room in this economy? A raven fills With another’s nest, eats up the sparrow eggs and rests. What is the disease where muscles stiffen and tendons ossify— Is there no room for poetry in the poking bones? The sound of oats tinseled in a bowl? I wait for change. A hunger in my thorax eructs into burn, esophageal rips, I’m sorry to explain to anyone who asks. the knees kneel Every sore shares a name. The action shaped the joints The shape of the joint allows us to bed with formal agony— Somewhere, a gosling sleeps. I would do anything to change.