Spirit Photograph: Tara
BY SARA BRICKMAN
In a room, we gathered around your bed to stay in uncertainty. We brought you soup & tulips. A year of blood, vials filled & emptied & yellow light. First time you let me see you without makeup, your face lanterned, fear casting to far shores. The first thing to go, comforting thoughts of suicide. The first thing to go bodies of animals you would now eat again, your skin luminous, green of the aurora, green of chlorophyll pills you swallowed, jars of water filled & unfilled. A new kind of dancing. How we were then truly your family. What can be said for the house you were born/not born into—place of no place?—house where your child skin was hide sack, turned over & shook for silver that never fell—& almost every day those first few months the doctors reached their knowledge up into you to turn a treasure & said they found nothing even as you hallucinated smoke, blond in hunks vaporing the shower: not there. What is it to be believed? To show the organisms a home because no one else would name them? Welcome a vampire in. Wall the devil out. Soften 40 years of survivor in weeks. How it took the shadow of blood in your brain to open. A censer in my mouth swinging, gold chain in my teeth. I walk & the myrrh keeps burning. In my hands, empress of air which is not nothing. I’m giving you what I cannot give you. My mouth drawing pictures around your wounding. You tell me the poem is my business with God. There to tap into if I want it. I’m seeing us again at the water, what you said you needed to see—every mountain a home for you —but not yet—still—keep this body hurt house though it is.
Spirit Photograph: Shofar
BY SARA BRICKMAN
תרועה Teru’ah- “A broken sound”
Once, I loved what hurt me. No. That isn’t right.
I loved what the people who hurt me might become—
loved what belief could shape them—the frame
I poured them into. Underneath this bright undoing
a sky of stars, a horse’s rough back. I stood in the field
and let the goats run toward me,
their bodies growing huge in the hot dawn, my feet
sinking deeper in the mud. They were on me then,
tugging at my belt, my shorts, pulling my shirt,
their hungry mouths, eyes glass stones,
so like beloveds only I could feed, beggars
who need in every direction.
Once, my mind full of scabs,
I took myself to a beach and wept.
I ate gravel and trusted myself for the first time.
I looked out over a sea
of backs approaching, strike of a thousand hooves
rushing and all I could feel was peace. Crucible
of those first months after
when I could not weep, couldn’t feel anything.
Stone in the belly of a ruminant, stone
in my accuser’s mouth, wearing his teeth to flat planes.
I want to tell you—I have loved the same man
for seven years and almost every day I am restless,
and almost every day I love him as I have never
loved anything else, ask myself if this
is what love is meant to be.
How do any of us learn the difference
between violence and visitation?
Holy mouth, who wants only to swallow me,
how is it I confused you for desire?
Desire for love? On the surface
of the sky a thousand flies trim the hide
of what I cannot leave behind.
I hold my arms away from my body
and let the muzzles press through me a door,
run my hand along the velvet
between horns. T’kiyah, g’dolah,
good boy, good boy, it isn’t every day I move towards
what doesn’t want to kill me.