It wasn’t like anything but what it was.
You. The decision. No verb in between.
Listen: the sea is the sea. Inside itself
it keeps its creatures secret from us
because they are not creatures
like us. Nets of nerves hang untied
without a brain to be tied to, then
the threads weaving through them
something which is not blood. Listen:
the sea has a floor. Then it doesn’t.
After too deep you forget about light.
After too deep you forget you are looking
for light. The sea is the sea because
it contains. Creatures who do not have
to remember, do not have to decide.
The world traces its circle and shifts
its waters which shifts so many
of them, floating, being their flesh
and everything else, and everything
moves and they move with it without
a mind to announce, to proclaim: move.
To say: decide. Listen: there is being
and there is being moved. It isn’t anything
other than what it is.
It began with the body as always.
It began with the body as landscape
It began with the woman who lay
on the green line the land makes
when it finds the sky. For her this wasn’t
horizon. For her this was an end.
It had no name. She had no name.
And under her body she felt earth
and its surface, centuries of shifting,
plate sliding over magma, restless
and sick. It began with her body
as landscape and the things the earth
told her. It was motion and motion,
even when motionless. It was the way
that belonged to all flesh: even
in stillness a movement. Then
there was time and she knew it
as time. Even her bones knew.
One day they’d be bones.
You said you wanted a boat and so I said
all right. I didn’t ask want or need. I gave
you my body because my arms were strong
enough. And if you rowed to her you rowed
to her. What you wanted was to cross
a river and so I said okay. My face faced down
the depths and I could see. I was surprised.
There were fish as thick as our bodies who
dragged their own bodies, their own scales
shaded down to light and belly against
the riverbed, which answered them with silt.
With nothing. After a while I got used to it.
Your fingers braceletting my wrists. Into
the water and out of the water and cold
wasn’t a word for me anymore. And when she
was there on the other shore I thought well
and all right. And when you gave her your
arm and when you became together and walking
and away, I stayed on the shore in the shape
you gave me. I stayed a boat waiting to be moved.
Because Of What Can't Be Said I Say This
As if the weather itself fit into your palm
and there you held it, there you kept
from me windstorm and blizzard, there
you kept lightning from knifing the sky.
And in your eyes the blue of water held
somewhere still in safety, stories of fish
arcing ever under and beneath, fins sweeping
and sadness and surface. And if that sadness
itself were a fish I could catch and keep
in glass far from riptide and predator,
where it I could teach trust or forgiveness
as a lace fern planted steady for it
to sleep beneath, and it could teach me
the colors that come to you darkward
and nightly, every silver vision of every
hunger you taste bright on your tongue.
You do not ask of me. I do not ask of you.
And if this could be sea I tell you, I tell you,
I’d swim for you through wave and weather
untired, determined, body angled forever
towards you and your body, its breathing,
its sweetness, its patience, I’d swim for you
moon pearl and sun blade, I’d swim for
your body and promise, I promise,
to build even deep out of water
and anything a home.
Who Is To Say Who's To Blame For The End
It wasn’t a race. Still I stood with my legs
posed, right foot before the left. Always
is it wise to prepare. I built before he came
home a secret closet. I let my finger fit
the lock as key and inside keep what I know
I’ll need: a suitcase packed with rum and wool,
a pigeon to give my father back my name. I became
a magician. When he wanted I gave of my body
in plumage. I gave myself hair-stripped. I gave
myself gold. I was expert in keeping what he loved
hidden: six inches of hair-fall behind the wainscoting,
my thumbnails buried beneath rug and floor. Because
I was frightened I sliced lid from eyeball. It was easy
to never get used to the dark. It wasn’t a game
but I played it. I threw dice and fake money, got out
of jail free. Of course in the end I would stay there.
I was wanted and then wasn’t wanted. I made myself
into something. My I had ceased to be.
EMMA BOLDEN is the author of Malificae, a book-length series of poems about the witch trials in early modern Europe published by GenPop Books. She is also the author of four chapbooks of poetry: How to Recognize a Lady (part of Edge by Edge, Toadlily Press), The Mariner’s Wife (Finishing Line Press), The Sad Epistles (Dancing Girl Press) and This Is Our Hollywood (forthcoming in The Chapbook). Her nonfiction chapbook, Geography V, is forthcoming from Winged City Press. Her work has appeared or will soon appear in such journals as Prairie Schooner, Conduit, the Indiana Review, the Greensboro Review, Redivider, Verse, Feminist Studies, The Journal, Guernica, and Copper Nickel.