Poem of the Week: June 30th, 2014

Winner of the 2011 Nebraska Book Award for Poetry for her debut collection, Cradling Monsoons, Sarah McKinstry-Brown is also the author of “Persephone Writes Her Mother,” our poem of the week. More of her work can be found in Volume 3, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Sarah McKinstry-Brown

He promises I will learn to burn
beneath his gaze; that if I close my eyes

and tell him where to put his hands,

I’ll hear the babbling brook where I used to bathe. I’m always
thirsty. He says the body is a ladle. He says

you’ve set the world above us on fire
and all the rivers are flowing backwards. He says

the sky is falling, that the calves in the fields cannot drink
from their mother’s teat, and the grass doesn’t remember

being green. He says it’s my fault,
that if only I’ll soften beneath him, the sky will open.

His eyes are tongues, his arms, twine. I can’t sleep,
and when I dream, it’s always the same: you lean in to kiss

the top of my head, and I am pulled under. My hair, once famous to the sun,
gone anonymous,

fused with the old cottonwood’s roots.

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