When the Blood Came
some days, rain. some days, rain, but harder.
a river of pink mimosa frenzying, loosing blooms
like feathered animals
into noonheat’s slack & dizzy. she dizzies. she feels
a slowthick dripping.
waxing in her: night. a space, like death, without language: only the smell of dragonflies brawning out of murk. of fawn glazed pink with afterbirth. the new moon throbbing,
a sound like blood. she listens for blood—
for rhythms. the ravens’ loud generations.
seedlings that reek & stiffen in the wet-hot soil.
beginning to hear: the red dirt moan—now,
for the cool fingertips of water;
now, for june’s many-toothed light.
beginning to hear: reasons a live thing might ache—
burn & flux. quick frost. spring’s virile hysterias: its cracking, stretching. the occasional eclipse. other designs
she cannot name.
she blushes at cattails without knowing why.
her bud lips puff & heavy like the violent iris. her body
twists, fruits yens. she wants:
to make the lifeblack noise of flowers,
to share their pollen’s dissonance—
to feel, beneath the soil, groundwater shift its length in ways that quicken her breath— to hold something of the earth in her mouth
& shiver when
it cuts. to yield
measures of her limited
life, offer it to air—& survive
the spilling, keep growing
taller & nearer to root.
her veins a throne of copper hornets. that stain
an amen & its own amen.
Elegy for the Living
on the classmates of Tamir Rice
heard they the willow weeping
hard salt & several seas
the moon once
a smile now
warbles red down the robins’ chests
pours red from the mouth of every maple in the blazing country see they april’s grin gone toothless crooked ask what good now that brightsweet air turned viscous on the skin
& what will mean the first-bloomed violet now (vein-blue) or the clover unbraided (& colored like bone) or hopscotch squares leap-empty or the art of secret handshakes
or anyone’s good name
where did it go the unblistered free
era when mamas at least pretended n
ot to pull the shades talked dusk tigers prowling only late late to papa you hear that pop
munch of another metal fang
you see the news
ripened they quick
by the no-sun
& stopped asking how to spell
luminous or if x's in algebra want to be solved
instead how many pounds will it be the weight lifelong
of all their pretty
heavy forever & ever & ever since now
MARISSA DAVIS is a poet and translator from Paducah, Kentucky, now residing in Brooklyn, New York. An MFA student at New York University, her poetry has appeared or will soon appear in Rattle, Sundog Lit, Poem-A-Day, Frontier Poetry, Glass, Nimrod, and New South, among other journals. Her translations are published in Ezra and forthcoming in Mid-American Review, RHINO, The Massachusetts Review, and New England Review. Her chapbook, My Name & Other Languages I Am Learning How to Speak (Jai-Alai Books, 2020) was selected by Danez Smith for Cave Canem’s 2019 Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady Prize.
(Photo Credit: Caitlin Vazquez)