Ghazalish, The Flood
Here is what I want you to know about the silence, still as death and colder: it moved from you to
me, see, here in this bonecage gone titanium, this immune system propped by goblin armies:
couplets emerge from scar, relentlessly enjambed. This body is a verse form dealing with both loss
and love, but choked by anaphylaxis there is no scheme. The poet’s moniker appears at the end.
Once I took you all the way in, once I choked. They are peculiar twins, vulnerability and memory: I
am made and remade as neural network linking like things, a synesthesia.
My red is joy, a blues song in my flesh. Did you know we remain aware under anesthetic? I hear the
stapler closing me back up: while he sank bone-screws, he talked about his sailboat. Afloat,
I know what is happening to the body I am in, in all this water. Sew me into the lining of your coat
and carry me away from here: my bones your corset, I will hold tight. Cubit by cubit I become ark
filled with wild animals. Surely there is a way to silence all this howling? Once I took it in; once I
could not stop it from spilling out. How the light slid over your cheekbone as certainty.
One mouth ungenerous, one sewn shut. Trace the philtrum, fingertip-rest: trace the hours of kissing.
You used to like it, so I reminded you. Even on my own lips now my name shatters.
It’s always in bed that bombs go off: dynamite lover, death, dynamite in broken bones. Once I
traced the line of your cheekbone while you slept: through my fingertip came mortal ticking. It’s like
kudzu, pain—an invasive species, climbing and twining. Have you ever been made of doom? I
dream of dance, neural precision: how once I kicked a man’s shirt open without touching him, how
his buttons fell like coins. Some things oxy can’t touch. Neither can you, I tell the skeleton. Don’t touch
me. It backs off. Later, I feel bad. Run my fingertip over its cheekbone.
Jessamyn Smyth's writing has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Taos Review, Red Rock Review, American Letters and Commentary, Nth Position, Life & Legends, Wingbeats: Exercises and Practices in Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies. Her books The Inugami Mochi (2016) and Gilgamesh/Wilderness (2021) are from Saddle Road Press. Kitsune (2013) was part of the New Women’s Voices Series at Finishing Line Press. Koan Garden (2006) and Skaha (2021) are available on her website: jessamynsmyth.net. Jessamyn was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Quarterly, and Founder/Director of the Quest Writer's Conference. She also teaches university and works in digital art and media.