Featured Poem: Ghazals for the body

By Portia Elan

KELP HOLDS ITSELF, its each other,
as the children’s slight weight fails to break its wen buoys.

There’s a romantic story about oak trees, but I’ve
moved higher than they grow & forgotten it.
The jewelry box collects water in the night & in the morning
opens for you to drink.
Did you never imagine: the tulip might be grateful
for winter, for retreat, for the tongue of itself only?
On the Irish coast a movie star
watches seals play in & out of the water.
***
My love has the lifespan
of an Arkansas Black apple.
Every time I unfold the paperclips
their shear strength is less, is less.
I’ve never ridden in the bed of a pickup
down the highway with you.
The part that hurts is the part
that is no more, gone it is. I know.
I collect washed eggshells in a bowl & they collect dust.
At some point a spider moves in.
Worry less about the rings the glass leaves on the table.
Moving vans take out the lowest branches.
Dear heart
retreat.
The fish are suspicious of every shadow,
which might be a cat.
***
Letters from a former lover, many sexual, none
as sweet as remembered. Her words still wind the clock though.
The wolf, who is tired, who is old, licks the water,
which only ripples slightly, & keeps mirroring the clouds.
Wind moves the stiff grass on the near hills, low
& like the coiled legs of a large cat. Once a week we fast.
In the mornings I am greedy for silence. In the afternoons &
evenings too.
In the large sky of silence I am an extraordinary dancer.
Outside, wood & hatchet wait for each other.
Give me no other metaphors for love.
I speak my name: Portia & Portia & Portia.
The shore speaks of the water’s abandonment.
The snake’s skin comes apart
as soon as she leaves it.
***
The custard breaks. So do many seashells underfoot.
I take the breaking personally.
No one says anything out of politeness, as my right eye cants
inward.
It searches for God.
We pack your dead grandmother’s things in the heat.
I pack my sweat into every box.
The sky leaps up into being every morning before I wake.
As I dream, I make it so. Without me—nothing.
I cannot melt the sugar in the glass, nor tat the lace.
I wrap you up in paper & throw you down the chute.
I wear the hairshirt of a girl—the torque & spectacles;
keep hidden the tail & tongue & teeth.
I just want to be surprised, to fondle a stone before taking a bite.
To wake radical in my skin.
***
What I want is a woman who knows all the meanings of
indulgence.
What I want is a bridge across the water so far below.
Coyote warning signs & mountain lion warning signs & carcasses
in the ravine; season of drought.
I grew a cruel & silent second half.
I stay conjoined.
The tomatoes swell ponderously on the balcony.
The greens could not be greener, nor more laced with crawling
things.
Two ways for the sea to touch shore; it’s a false dichotomy
but a useful one: two ways you know to touch me.
Slap leather jack, bonafide crack shot; baby
likes her faces sweet, her fingers dirty.
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