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By Caits Meissner
the two girls loved like a sieve and drank a river
of fish and read poems too big for their mouths
but none of this really matters.
it is all background noise to distract the
writer from spilling past the heart’s armor
to fill the fridge with abundant fruit.
there was a half-used bottle of ketchup,
a mess of unwashed dishes, mattress
slung into hallway, an imprint of body kept
like the memory of stone in untouched sand.
the author pauses to feel the tumbleweed
of her womb and this friend called sister
cradling her belly, the echo searching for
a hole to bury its young, this in-suppressible
hiccup: not here, not here, not here.
what if you were wrong. what if the womb is
always a garden and never a prison. all you
know for sure is her hair fell the night like
the coat of a black stallion galloping away as
you swept her in your arms, so many pieces
of broken clay, after the pill and the blood spots
on clean sheets like fresh fox prints on snow.
this is something you learned, albeit slowly, as
the grass poked its many fingers through spring
and she packed her suitcase for the West Coast,
rejecting your strongest medicine, this growing
whisper of a thought taking possession of your
body and never letting go.
After the Hospital
We put records on to pull our shivering
bodies gently from the river.
Scrape his belongings off the floor
and bag them like bundles of limbs in black plastic.
Cut the belt left hanging off the pipe in the bedroom.
Return the chair to the desk, ice the skin.
On the counter, a plum rotting in the window.
A hallway light left on like a lighthouse.
Roaches running in the kitchen sink
as if our inheritance.
At night you crawl into my bed, sisters, and
for a moment everything is summer again.
I dream of a forest where you are three years old
baby teeth, and tiny legs teetering between the trees
running until we fall against giant roots
the trunk taller than the great sky.
I cradle you in the shade, light gently
speckling your burning body bubbling
with laughter and for a moment
I taste happiness
so sharply on my tongue.
I wake to you as a woman, blonde hair spilling
across the pillow like albino spiders growing fatter.
The plum’s pungent bruise beneath your right eye.
I pull the dream around me like a straight jacket.
I bury us in the sand of the dream.
I pile on the dream like the layers of a ball gown.
I tighten the dream like a corset,
anything that will bind, anything that will bind.
When I have married and left you in a new home
the neighbors tell me he has returned,
neck scarred in a circle like a pit bull cut from chains.
He has broken a hallway window in anger, they say.
He is unstable they say, planting their
unwanted flag on our fertile land.
The black bags like gravestones
on the grass in Brooklyn.
The plum searching for a weak mouth
to taste it’s rampant blood.
All of the things I’ve never been able to keep
shepherded parading around
as if my body a bonfire, then wildfire,
The window is every window.
His face is every face in this city,
is every boy with a fitted cap and headphones.
I keep myself company by mentally
picking them off one by one
like dying pink petals.
A stranger turns on the subway platform
as the train leaves the station.
He wears the hollow mask of the boy,
the ring around his neck like a glowing halo,
and he mouths to me through the glass,
Winner of the OneWorld Poetry Contest, Caits Meissner attended the 2008 Pan-African Literary Forum in Ghana, studying under Yusef Komunyakaa. She has been published in various journals and books, including Saul Williams’ recent anthology, CHORUS. Her poetry/music album was released to online acclaim through sites such as Okayplayer. The Letter All Your Friends Have Written You, Caits’ collaborative poetry book with poet Tishon, arrived January 2012 on the Well&Often imprint, a press where she also serves as Founding/Education Editor. She has performed at venues such as Joe’s Pub, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Highline Ballroom, NYU, Columbia University, The Kitchen and the Blue Note Jazz Cafe.