In Her Lap, To the World
Once you could send an infant,
under eleven pounds, by post,
trust the carrier to deliver your son–
postage pinned to his little corduroy vest–
to your sister, eighty miles away. It wasn’t
legal long. I don’t know if I’d prefer
my child to carry a house on her back,
to bite when a hand’s too near, or make
a new nest each season. I’m always asking her
to be me and not me, which is what a child is
anyway. Today, everything is soaked.
If I had to make a fire, I’d fail, but I live
with the privilege of not needing to conjure
flame. As I listen to the music of the pond,
I’m sure if I slowed down, I’d know from where
that frog bellows. I might see the whole Earth
breathe. Tell me how to line the path from here
to there with enough obstacles to not wear down
my child when I already know sorrow’s great
root is expectation. My friend says you cannot
spoil a child because love cannot cause rot.
I’m hoping she’s right, will surrender to this axiom
because I want to be enough. When it’s all cloud
should we warn of the storm or let our children name
the few patches of blush and sapphire sky?
Besides this moment, what else can I not replace?
What Lies Beyond Rescue
Spent rocket stages, paint flakes
and frozen coolant in Earth’s low orbit.
Ed White’s lost glove gathering speed.
An eye that’s scratched beyond repair.
The thing that’s gone too far past
a sink’s drain hatch, though a friend
retrieved his son’s stuffed humpback
who’d fallen in the open sewer cap.
Cake that’s slide from plate, rhomboid
icing floor. Maybe I’d serve a slice
cut from its untouched upper half,
perfectly formed and free of dust and fur.
The rest: scraps for worms. Sometimes
when a car’s totaled, it’ll still run, bent
axle and dripping fuel, unsalvageable vessel–
a body swollen with tumor–
the mind clicks on
bright human whirling to life.
Ode to Afterthought
What might have been useful before
especially if money or concrete or surgery
was involved. Dry wood after the fire’s snuffed out.
Some conditional. A salve to ease word’s burn.
The tribe of retaliation, upright on horses
just crossing the stream, moving with the seasons.
When I think, whole continents can collide
or unstick in the brain. But what’s beyond?
The thing that sets off flares, when some mouth
wedged between my ribs says Go, now.
Thought rides in on its horse. Or it’s a foot soldier.
Sometimes my flag bearer makes it to the next leg
of the journey, builds the Trojan horse, the idea
of Helen, the catapult. Was ego or victory so loud
it drowned out my voice, yours, which of us said,
I don’t know about this?
Twist & Shout
The song and dance
of my dead aunt’s
free love before
the cult swallowed
her whole. A wholesome
girl grinning a half grin–
holding something back, in.
Her hair almost auburn
from the film’s fade.
Was it Easter? That hat
and dress. Not the most
of my grandmother’s
but a moment
when first born was still
untouched, safe, home.
What a nightmare
to need to hire a PI
to find your missing girl,
even if she was the rebel,
who spat and cursed
a cerulean streak, filled
the sky with soot.
After the Ed Sullivan Show
nearly collapsed the band’s
car roof. Finally,
all of those bodies
unleashed, free from father’s
chains and gaze, apron
strings, Mary Janes.
The straight shot
from kitchen to altar
altered. Who didn’t expect
to get hurt in the fall?
In Praise of the Bodily World
You’d laugh ungrounded
in the open parking lot,
eyes sparking, and I knew
better than to touch you.
Better to wait for the eclipse,
observe my shadow tonight.
Forgive me for being drawn
to the flesh of your lips,
to wanting to hold more
than your voice in my head.
This is the time of year
I remember you most.
It’s easy to fall in love with autumn
in autumn. I make no mistake
of the warmth of another body.
I wanted that and more.
You were never mine, but I
don’t believe I’m paying off
a debt for something in another life.
What a tidy little lie. The day
the towers fell, I ran five miles
in the time it took both planes
to taxi, takeoff and upend my world.
When I arrived on campus,
I watched the TV outside the cafeteria
replay the second crash.
The sunflowers tilting their heads
to the sun turned to look at you.
There are no answers. Only genetically
modified seeds. A remote
with no pause, the volume jammed up.
I remember you best
in the season of your death.
How many hours we wasted
together. I’m mourning you here
before the eclipse. We cannot
escape this bodily world alive. Of all
the men I’ve loved, I loved you
beyond the flesh. Once on the trail
you and I used to walk, I went
alone and crossed an eight-point buck.
When we locked eyes, I recognized
a mutual fear. Nothing magical about
a deer on the path just my desire
for it to be. My wanting to be close
enough to the Earth to not
disrupt it, to read its signs right,
to have those we love love us back.
Emari DiGiorgio is the author of Girl Torpedo (Agape, 2018), the winner of the 2017 Numinous Orison, Luminous Origin Literary Award, and The Things a Body Might Become (Five Oaks Press, 2017). She’s the recipient of the Auburn Witness Poetry Prize, the Ellen La Forge Poetry Prize, the Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize, RHINO’s Founder’s Prize, the Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Award, and a poetry fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She’s received residencies from the Vermont Studio Center, Sundress Academy of the Arts, and Rivendell Writers’ Colony. She teaches at Stockton University, is a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Poet, and hosts World Above, a monthly reading series in Atlantic City, NJ.