B&W circle

Only a Fool Would Do This

Clare Welsh

I brush on ashes for eyeshadow, become
               again the scorched woman
leaving. My therapist says the wounded
               sabotage intimacy ; we can’t build a house
without bracing for collapse. I cough cinder
               because once there was fire. Remember
the warped railing, the wolfdog straining her snout
               through the bars of the cage that melts
around her. The corpse reeking of stains. The smell
               of love, which in German (lieben) is one i
from life (leben). I prefer Teutonic to Romance languages
               because, if it comes, love comes
guttural. When I walk out on the frozen lake
               where the doe preserved in ice looks up with her milky stare,
I think anxiously of Spring, when necks soften
               and worms eat trails through bone.
Life just doesn’t keep like death. Do you know
               how many winters I’ve come back here looking for a body
long gone? All the audiobooks on mythology
               couldn’t teach me about Orpheus and the blues: I gotta at least
try raising the dead, scrape my knees crawling through Hell
               before I hear the day drop like an over-ripe fig.
I peel skin from my blood mouth. I was never
               not this, raised in the haunted North
where the wolfdogs gnaw whole deer. I lick my claws. Wash
               raw meat with vodka. Singing.

space break

Northern Lights

I find the wing of a crow and wonder
               where the heart ended up. What a heart loses
as it ascends. I bring you the wing of a crow
               as if it’s proof of angels, because I need you
to believe this redemption story though it reeks
               of gold spray paint. A Playstation hero
weeps into his boxy hands, and the 32-bit console
               can’t depict his tears. Look, a glitch
where I cry this time. A glitch where I stay
               with you, rip time into a parallel universe
where we’re kissing in that smashing way
               in shadows cast by ice-halos as the sky
opens, flickers green. Are the dead trying
               to tell us something? Like, wise up.
Like, stop shuffling around the yard,
               come inside, love you
idiots. The day I quit town I give you
               the wing of a crow and two stuffed wolves
from my childhood. I imagine you with them
               playing videogames, the hero
reflected in each glass eye. I’m always leaving
               what I cherish in a blue bubble I can’t hold
or maim. I squeeze my eyes shut, phosphene
               the darkness. My aurora. My night light
of planet spelling your name.

Clare Welsh is a writer and photographer based in Pittsburgh. A graduate of the MFA writer’s workshop at the University of New Orleans, her work has appeared in McSweeny’s Internet Tendencies, Puerto Del Sol, Poets Reading The News, NPR, WHIV New Orleans, and other places on air, in print, and online. Her chapbook Chimeras is available through Finishing Line Press.