Saturday Sep 23

ClarkHollyVirginia Holly Virginia Clark has been a finalist for the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship, winner of a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, and a Pushcart nominee. Her work has appeared in the North American Review, Hunger Mountain, Redactions, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Clark earned her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College before relocating to San Francisco. There she has taught poetry through San Francisco Recreation and Parks, and has also worked as one of the managing editors for the g.e. collective which publishes chapbooks in partnership with Poetry Flash. Clark is currently looking forward to returning to her hometown of Cincinnati to begin the PhD program in English Literature at the University of Cincinnati where she plans to complete her first book manuscript.
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Moon

 
I didn’t say I was hungry and here you are
with clay bowls of lentil soup, the hambone
 
dripping on the rack, and we are two old men
in a Goya painting, you bellied up to the bed,
 
next to the one who looks like a skeleton.
And the moon doesn’t light the room,
 
is a white thumbprint on the night outside,
is skinned and bloodless, an unborn lamb
 
in its milky sac, the mouth’s unweaning O.
But some nights the moon is a hand ascending
 
the fox-red body of the bridge, and I am a woman
and you are a man and there’s no relief
 
from how much we want. That you love me
doesn’t mean I’m wholly human, that I’m not
 
also the moon—sometimes a shard of glass
tossed by the clouds and smoothing down,
 
sometimes a fishhook snagged through the black.
That I count you among those I haven’t failed
 
means I’m not wholly the moon. That I can hunger
means you’re near but not near enough.
 

 
Vitals

 
Why am I always standing
where a knife cuts the throat passing by
and I become the beginning
of a gutted goat?
Let's not pretend I had designs on the knife.
I'm not the one who slays.  But I graze
near the blade, always have.  Take A,
his parades of tequila, the lapses
and throws, and yelling out the window.
Take B and his small mirrors,
his powders that became my powders,
and his handsome, handsome cock.
On a mountain in Bolivia,
a shaman rips a guinea pig in two
to examine its heart to find out
if the heart of an old man in a hospital bed
is going to keep beating.
I see the ragged fur along the torn flesh,
hardly bleeding, the heart
something zoomed in on,
the size of a fingertip and gray
the way white and purple and red become gray
and still beating in the broken body.
The shaman says, He will be fine,
meaning the man in the bed in the hospital.
Lover, you're so bafflingly unafraid.
Break my body in half,
as if it hasn't been broken already,
and take that ridiculous heart—
posturing, primping, flexing its muscle
for some street fight it's waiting for—
take that heart and hold it.
 
 

Memory

 
The mother maneuvered a suitcase
past the doorjamb, past the screen door
onto the stoop, while the daughter
looked on in ducky pajamas
from the front stairs, the banister looped
in evergreen, and the father laid his face
in his folded arms at the kitchen table
just how the daughter sometimes fell asleep
during late suppers. But the daughter knows now
that she’s only remembering a photo
of herself at two years old—flushed and frowning,
her empty stocking in her hand ready to hang.
And the scenes beyond the edges didn't happen
that day, not that way; she knows because
you can't remember the look of your own eyes
from the outside, only the feeling your face made
in its skin, and she can picture her eyes
too perfectly, their hatching.
 

 
Depression

 
There’s a ghost in the house the cat watches.
She has one cup she fills and what she drinks
spills through me. I hear her thin talc steps
or her necklace breaking in a smattering of pearls.
 
She has one cup she fills and what she drinks
consumes me. I wear her hands around my throat.
My necklace breaks in a smattering of pearls.
Sad-eyed daguerreotype, she watches me.
 
She consumes me with her hands at my throat.
She puts salt in our lanterns and in our bed.
Sad-eyed daguerreotype, she watches me.
Would you give a kitten a bowl of milk?
 
She puts salt in our lanterns and in our bed
and it’s not my fault, my love. She says,
Would you give a kitten a bowl of milk?
I find her pearls in my milk, her milk in my eyes.
 
She says it’s not my fault. She says, My love…
I know she’s thirsty and cannot be trusted.
I find her pearls in my milk, her milk in my eyes.
I follow her sweater unraveling sleeve by sleeve.
 
I know she’s thirsty and cannot be trusted:
she’s travelling without a body the kitchen, the hallway.
I follow her sweater unraveling sleeve by sleeve,
while the kittens mewl in the basket in the closet.
 
I am travelling without a body in the kitchen, in the hall,
wearing her sweater unraveling sleeve by sleeve.
The kittens are mewling in the basket in the closet.
There’s a ghost in the house and the cat keeps watch.