Poetry by Holly Lyn Walrath
as you put it
Superior and necessary,
those were the words you used
as the red wine seeped
up to our eyeballs and
spilled out onto my cheeks.
Behind our words we shored up a house of crystal, knocking us about in its hollow heart.
(The ocean breeze tried to tear it up with its teeth but it stands like a stalwart old sailor, shipwrecked after his last voyage, head rimmed with hoarfrost, clinging to the salt-soaked rocks.)
We live in a world
of unfulfilled fairytales.
You were promised
I would be dainty
with a size three foot
(to fit the glass slipper),
a bell dangling in my skirts,
an apron bow like a present,
and flowers on my knees
(red, blushing violently).
I was promised you would be tall, spritely, piney-handed (handy) golden-curled (sweat-soaked tendriled) wearing a coat with three buttons ruffled feathers beneath, a popinjay — with a sugar-dusted tongue
and after I tasted you —
promises we made
behind the glass.
Two Hundred Fifty-Seven
I have eaten 142 sunflower seeds today (roasted, unsalted, in-shell) and written
257 words across a blank piece of paper, today I told the character in the science fiction novel he will die, and he responded with the casual and unbroken flick of a middle finger between his top and bottom teeth, today
I imagined several haikus that could
not really be defined as such but
at least they looked pretty, in a nice
little block shape like literary wood
engravings on sheepskin or the desperate
secret note of a fugitive, squeezed
onto the back of a postage stamp, today
I revisited the scene in the back of the black pickup with the blood on the floorboards, concealed by the litter of cigarette butts, coins and receipts and reckless cell phones that will
not stop ringing hip hop ringtones, today the pregnant girl, wooed by the stack of gold rings upon the older man’s fingers, will not escape into the thick crowd of New York bodies and mist that lies at their feet like death’s odor, she will not deface her
rapist, branding him for the bastard
he is with the hush of a gun, today
I could not solve the world’s
problems so instead of beginning anew
I made honey lemon herbal tea, which
was so hot that I had to drop a tiny
ice cube onto its surface, which refused
to melt away anyway, but at least today
I managed to recreate the sound between my teeth when my pursed lips hit my tongue and the cat comes running besides which the noise of perfect silence.
I Am Going to Find the Unicorns
Not the human’s idea of them,
all bright purple and cheeky.
No, the real ones. Blood and horns and teeth.
I am going to walk around this earth and believe it is not real until
the other world comes out to greet me from the shadows.
I will kneel in the dirt and read leaves like ruins.
I will put mud in my mouth to taste dwarves
I will fuck my way through the realm of fae until I’ve got nothing left to learn.
When others see me, they will see a woman unhinged.
I will crawl out of my skin, leaving it all heaped behind me and the naked me will walk home alone in the darkness a disciple of shadows, an acolyte of the moon.
When the unicorns find me, I will learn to fight even when there’s nothing left to fight for.