Christina M. Williams: two poems
Palsy | seven things lost
Around the womb a devil descended,
like a strange fish biting for worms.
Whatever bait you offered, my father,
he took and his hunger consumed your breath.
It was a deal, he muttered, clamoring against the pelvis.
You never spoke a word, taking it as boys do.
At five, you were a bat
hanging in the closet by ropes, stretching
the ungrown muscles
of your eyes, in the dark.
What did you see there?
What god of gravity did you imagine?
I rarely noticed your limp, if ever,
and wished every night to be left handed,
to have your forearms,
to grow a beard, to know the god of miracles
of which you often spoke.
Pocketing your fine-tooth black combs
on Sundays, smelling the musk of your scalp
memorizing the pricks under my fingernails
I was your blind Thomas, pressed against you in the pew.
seven things lost
forget how I was naked
when you dropped
the one my uncle gave to me,
the one he used in Canada
where he waited through Vietnam,
and how you stood there holding the pieces
like a fallen blue bird
in the doorway where you said
i will not remember
you reaching across the table
brushing something from the corner of my mouth
neither of us talking,
an insignificant forgiveness of sins
when the trees lose their leaves
i can see the highway
from my office window
our minds cannot bare
last Thursday’s odometer reading
the smell of the chocolate cake
the color of the our kindergarten teachers eyes
the number of letters
who’s turn it is to write
her name at all
when i daydream
i think of our child
not yet born
i think of my body
filled with her stars
filled with her sparks
her closet, the door closed,
the dresser of her bedroom
the toy chest at the end of her bed
so are our wombs
so are our arms
i press the broken bottle
into the muddy river's edge
and the bank swallows it
like a pill for the loss of memory
Christina Williams is the Director of Artistic Services for the Books for Life Foundation in Indianapolis. She is the recipient of several honors including nomination for a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Genesis, The Clark Street Review, The Ledge, Qwerty and Country Feedback.