I come to you like a child
like a “girl,” I come to you, I weep
into my nest of hair, I come bearing swans
made out of nice cloth napkins that turn into
real swans, they fly, though they have no eyes,
they levitate, somber, feather-heavy, then collapse
in an exhale to allow me to wipe my face.
Dirtied, they resurrect themselves to fly once more,
frantic legs working the air as if it was water.
I beg them to do it, over and over,
their bodies: I damn them to tautology. No one knows
their grief. I’d never let them speak. The wild sadness
of birds, of good cloth napkins. I come to you
a “boy,” smelling of sunscreen and sand,
I pile the beetles at your feet
I’ve spent all day collecting. X,
their green shone. And still it does, though I killed them
long ago, in Your name: their death sound a sibilant
wing shudder. Sweet, useless exertion. Imperfect as light
through empties in a sun-wrecked kitchen the morning after.
Imperfect, I mean, the way beauty always is. For instance,
you said once you loved
the way I say “wang.” You said you did, but we can’t deny
it’s an ugly word, a lonely one, so dirty. As I am ugly, as I am alone,
I, made of dirt. X, I give it to you, all. Imperfect body I give to you,
my boyhood, I give it (my girlhood I shed long ago & it only
existed in you). My “wang.” The green shine of the bugs
the whole bug too
yours I tell you, yours. Take it or I’ll grind it to dust, a powder
to conjure you by. A poison. The teenage promise: I’ll do it
I’ll eat that old magic, and then what will you do with me, my body
a spell only you can parse.
X at dusk, with trees
Though the night is black
though the streetlights yellow
though about her head a penumbra of pale gold
X’s body is blue,
blue the moons under her eyes,
blue, the black of her inky hair
and her dusky shadow pale blue
of the sweet smoke that chokes
a sanctuary. And the shadows
she melts into, as she disappears
from my view: blue of deep grief,
blue the crows that sing
(though they cannot sing) her exit.
KATIE SCHMID is a graduate of the University of Wyoming’s MFA program. Her work has appeared in Quarterly West, PANK, Hobart, & Best New Poets 2009, among others. She lives in Illinois.