Each morning I unlatch
the window to shout the miser magpies
from their perch, the sill dips a bit in
the clutch of my palm and I swear I can
catch a taste of tinfoil in the lick of sky
ringing above me.
The magpie’s miser-eye
swallows me from the inside. Cyclonic,
I’m pitched senseless round and round til
I think I see my face whipping by in the shine
of every passing car.
The speed overwhelms.
Assailed by the thought of drowning in the bath,
I am alarmed. Leaded by shades, they gleam
behind my eyes, hanging like glassy coins dripping
milk. The dreamstate vapor they cast across me
eddies; a blue-fingered flex beneath my goose-
fleshed skin— I feel the rift drag, the raucous wake.
So silly, I know because it’s drought season
and, Doctor, you should see the desert I’ve become:
the tinder flash of each neuron’s every blink whirs
in my chest and heats the coil in my gut. My tongue
lights with sparks of language— I open my mouth
and the blur of history spins. I speak it like a prayer.
My mouth moves and moves. I lean in to the echo
of my own voice, curl in the burning shell of my own ear.
none of you will listen when
my voice breaks
into an elegy chorus &
the stem in my chest
grows thorns & now I’m laced
through by strangerblood by
smokevine nature’s hook & eye
& it’s true I grieve their green the slow rot
twilling the veins of each leaf &
Doctor, should I not
I see their ghosts everywhere
they look more like skin every day
Doctor, please forgive me.
I misunderstood, mistook the medicine for the curve
of my sleep-blue eye. The tawny dim of the kitchen
swoons when I step— My fault assuming a flat plane
beneath the tread of my dose-drunk steps. A few notes:
The water tastes of tin as writhes down my throat.
Likely because the tap pours mercury, pours poison into
my cupped hands. Never mind. I don’t mind the charpressed
pills that fit so neat between my teeth. I sleep.
My blunt reflection gleams clean in the butter knife, fetching
as the full, swollen fist of the moon. Like a love note tied round
a brick, it knocks me til I’m adrift among the trailing hem of night’s
seething skin, left pocked by the of burn of a raining silt of stars.
Is it mad to say I like the split-lipped face reflected in the dishwater,
the purpled sheen ringing her eyes—I feel less myself every day.
Elisa Karbin is the author of the poetry chapbook Snare and poems that have recently appeared, or are forthcoming, in Indiana Review, West Branch, Notre Dame Review and Blackbird, amongst others. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at The University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire. Visit her online at www.elisakarbin.com.