Saturday Jun 22

BrimhallTraci Traci Brimhall is the author of Our Lady of the Ruins (forthcoming from W.W. Norton), selected by Carolyn Forché for the 2011 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Rookery (Southern Illinois UP), winner of the 2009 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award.  Her poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, Slate, Virginia Quarterly Review, New England Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere.  She was the 2008-09 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and currently teaches at Western Michigan University, where she is a doctoral associate and King/Chávez/Parks Fellow.


There’s only one place where God cannot find me.
God with his hooves on, God with his horns
come to force me back on my knees with his love.
Fear abandons me at the sight of her with a black wig
and a belt in her hand. Her bare ass is obscene
and beautiful and struck by moonlight. She knows
the body’s ambition to be all sweat and flush and rapture.
I suffer her mouth, hold the sweet disorder of red hair
in my fists. She keeps my secret—the itch in my back
that wants to be wings. I accept the water offered
and the collar chained to the floor. Pain matters.
Light creeping through the window matters.
Images of unsuccessful saints taped over the cracks
in the wall watch, jealous, as she whips me around the room.
Rent, ripped asunder, every part of me awake to the stranger
mercies, her kiss as distant as the heaven that refuses me.

Dear Thanatos—

Stop digging up the dead. My daughter disappeared decades ago; you can’t have her. I know the rumors are true because when my husband came home and told me he’d buried her in the jungle, my master arrived inside me. He started calling me to the river, but he wouldn’t come to shore and he knows I can’t swim. I remember how dark the mud will be at the bottom. I remember how sinister his smile will be when he comes for me some day. No one here knows about the nephilim or my daughter’s strange birth. You must tell no one. I don’t even know who told you, but I will tell you this—I dreamt I made a blade of pirarucu scales and split you from sternum to navel. I kissed you as I pulled out your guts and went to wash them in the river. When I came back, your body was gone. I wept and wore your intestines like a wet shawl. Little One, do not think you can fuck with me and live. I have sent my beloved, armed with lust, to your side of the river. His mouth is unclean and holy. Nothing hurts as much as his love.