Monday Apr 22

PhillipsMatthewcreditCarlyAnn Faye Philip Matthews is a poet from eastern North Carolina whose practice roots in site-specific meditation and performance. He is the author of Witch, forthcoming from Alice James Books in April 2020, and the recipient of fellowships and residencies from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Hemera Foundation, and Wormfarm Institute. His website can be found here.

The Neck

All week I have passed it—
severed neck a stronghold for breeding.
I hear the neck buzz like a stitch.
Sometimes the tidewater shines on it.
Sometimes the tide is uncle-slack.
Or wholesale.
Sometimes the tide is like glue.
Sometimes tidewater transplants the sun
and the world has a permeable feeling.


At sunrise, the angels arrive
with their diet of crabs and clams
to crash against the breakwater,
bridge of rocks. Hundreds
shatter, are taken
behind the frenzy, and after—
the divining pools of shellwater,
shells of broken fire, violet
and white,
wet feathers, red legs,
I take my mother

as a memory down
this bridge, sure-footed
with healthy knees, joints
shifting in their tissue as they should.
There is a vision
in which seven legs
relate to each other on rock—
There will be a book,
but no grandchildren.
There will be a husband
like four birds low
over earth. There will be a skin
to be in, sword pulled
from a crane’s heart, sack of meat.
As my mother is vertical
on seawater.
And now kneeling.

We have been talking about prophecy,
the delicate balance
of inhabiting somebody’s consciousness,
fire in a glass.
One holds the other down
to her chair, saying,
“Don’t get up.”
There is work here, the floor
of the sandswept room to be swept,
glass doors open
to the seaside. The access of lit wind
Mother in her robe of white
daggers, tending the curtains,
smoothing the bed, unhooking
the neck of the crane.
This is a gift. This is to be
a gift.


Sot, froth, I came
to know myself as a blur
in the mirror at mother’s
dresser: You have not
met my mother but she is
the root plane at which I
and you
plant our face, smelling
of earth, shit and wet,
tumultuous grass, thunder
at the roots as ants and more
molecular shells
traverse their pheromonic
logic. In the creases
of mother’s hands, unread
by anyone superior to her:
You may have
seen me in my seagauze
dressings spinning
quietly at the threshold
of woman, posturing
towards woman, and failing,
my work boots a dead

—No—I forgot—You met my mother once
as I took her down
a bridge, as a memory, but this was me
pretending I had a moment of

Photo Credit: Carly Ann Faye