Sleep descends over this house
And leaves a blush
Of bruised fruit and eyeshadow,
A rich hidden flavor
Haunting the mirrors, and
Tinting the dreams of those who remain.
This house is vast
And many-winged as a meaningless hotel
Whose numbers ascend
Like a flock of crows.
I wear silk socks
That make my hair stand on end as I pace
And tread the threadbare carpet
With its maps and rivers
Of unnamed stains
And I want to tell the stories
Of each unnumbered room
And to pocket the people within
To harvest in darkness
The spinning wheels that thread their minds
And turns air lavender,
A shade unmade in nature.
Bike riding, a small simple pleasure
Like a cherry drop placed in the palm of a child.
My bike has carved tracks
In two continents conjoined,
The sisters north and south.
One white-haired with ice, cap of geese
I smudge into smoke with my thumb.
The other, gown embroidered into rivers,
A pattern of vines and glass-eyed constrictors.
From a bike there is poetry on each dusted road,
You’ve seen it too, the way it transforms.
All day under sun that poisons our blood
We ride side by side, with hair and legs that blur
Like lit candles held too close together.
She wore a pantsuit for her second wedding,
And her father who spoke only of the church
In the voice of a child
Did not deny her the music of a mountaintop
For this new marriage,
With its promise of cleansing, of rebirth,
Of looking down
From an ancient expanse
Upon the thing that makes you you
And descending then,
As the falcon advances down,
If nothing is instinct let it be this,
The bird on its ledge of the Brooklyn Bridge
Nothing more than the knife.
Holding a Crater in Her Hand
The day the sky fell
She was watering radishes
On a long lawn that was not her own.
First she heard the rabbits,
The rush of them,
Stirring from belowground,
Thumping hind legs like a growing storm.
Then they rose and swept past her
And the ground crawled.
She would be late for tea
And her gown stained
With the brush of their bodies.
After that she felt the fruit trees shudder.
She had watered each since birth,
Had stroked their names
Against her skin.
Now escorting each on its passage
To some otherside slippery and inaccessible.
She became a key that day,
Watching the sky
Open greedily to her, in great strips
Like bruises rendered in watercolor.
Alice is a summer
Old in her body, weaving trees.
She sees the space where her mind
Parts like a newborn mountain
Growing vines of the motorcycle man
Who bears her up highways
And down these dark valleys
Bleak with snow and salt
And the bodies of black-eyed badgers
Left to dry in a wind.
Alice can wait for years and years and still
Not be seen, the candles of her
Trail behind, she grasps the wheel
From him and rides
Far inside the safe sealed future
She will build of herself
Out of threads and twigs and
Shed silk skins.
Shannon Cuthbert is a writer and artist living in Brooklyn. Her poems have appeared in Bluepper, Collidescope, and Chronogram, among others. Her work is forthcoming in Ligeia Magazine, Green Silk Journal, The Oddville Press, and Schuylkill Valley Journal.