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Sunday 20 April 2014

Carol Shillibeer

sleeping with Odysseus under the wild blackberries

Even though it's true that garbage peeks out
_ziplock, for example, its lips
a pink and blue pucker under the white
bell of a morning glory_
some days the only solution to the haunting
_childhood pain and
shame pale and hissing_

is to hide out in the margins,
and in the wasted ground find
kinship with the blackberry thorns
and the strangling vines.

Childhood ghosts visit as clenched hands,
long scratches puckering blood
like red kisses between curved islands of dirt;
her ghost calls from the long shadow
between Scylla and Charybdis
and takes the form of dead leaves
woven amongst my braid_

In the Achilles-grey of the forlorn mind,
when only the body's blood will do,
offered to the warrior's shade
(a thimble toward an unquenchable thirst)
against this, the green leaf's vertical triumph,
mounding over piles_broken brick, bent rebar
detritus of the still-breathing_
this veridian lunge for the bright
pulls tight against the throat

and the ziplock, mouth gaping
in the unmoving air at despair's doorway_
we down in dirt's levelling_
_we are all silent and waiting.

carrion flowers

These are no flowers for a grave yard.                           
     Blue petals exuberant and tenacious,
     no thinned skin of life, sucking roots,
     taking home as they do, what remains of fauna's
     humming molecular. In what passes
     for floral veins, the whole earth is undone,
flower's penduncle engorged,

the sky a puked eruption of over-fed stamen and pistil,
     that floral singularity of universal production;
     today it's as if this small blue-petaled stigmatic lip
     has dribbled out the entire rocky shore of this
     tectonic plate; as if blown through
     the deep-bottomed style, the embyro sac
projecting out the hanging blue of sea and sky;

as if our world fell, the last drops disgorged
     from that small flowered ovum,
     the earth, and the material universe,
     Dickinson's twisted grace. Of course its all
     quite ridiculous. Such a fancy to be birthed
     by flowers, when really your small pile of ashes
blown amongst their roots means that you will be eaten;

your remaining mineral count fitted into hungry mouths
     tonguing the world, this shared home,
     with the standard blind longing. That's the thing:
     your uncle crying something about the eye of god,
     I'm not sure if he means you, who will be eaten
     by the blue, or some longing for justice
     in a world where such narratives are the ephemera
of so few, that like numbers

many are irreal, and so, most of us never
     encounter them; and yet such notions of god,
     of justice and conceptual eternities have their uses.
     In fluid dynamics, for example, the running
     of oxytocin's hope, of making it past this damn pain.
     It is a thin kind of solace that your nitrites
     will someday eat another small child;
even meaner perhaps that what was your body

must have been the remains of the long dead,
     a tumble of flora and fauna, the flown eyelash
     of a man died here 2000 years ago, the dissolved
     claw of a species of corvid no longer, and of course
     the thin blossomed tongue of a magnolia tree
     that lived here so long ago that it ate
     of worn down mountains,
already in the process of being reborn.

What tears there are for you, your sister pulling
     the blue petals one by one from their solar berth,
     mixing them with your ashes
     like some chemical wedding of earth and sky,
     will do no harm, and no good,
     but for the metaphor, our projected survival
     of your loss. For now, we are just this:
no flowers, instead, chemistry ravenous for home.


Over graves no longer marked,
the track curls up hill back
toward the house. At the turn,
the remaining pieces of Red-dog
lay, curled round by dented snow.

His lower jaw, still there.
An articulated neck. A few ribs.

The long bones of his legs,
gone, the hips finally taken,
maybe by some other dog,
a coyote, a badger.

I stopped,
my feet in their usual place
either side of his ragged white teeth.

When the last bone was left,
I would pick it up, take it home
to my kitchen, grind it,
and feed it to the man
who shot him and left him for dead.

Bio: A poet (and now a writer of flash fiction), Carol Shillibeer is trying to learn how to think in narrative (which is why flash fiction). When not struggling with being out of her experimental depths, she thinks about what it must be like to be a human being living without language; she reads Isaac Newton and tries valiantly to understand what he had to say; she solicitously seeks silence.

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