Two Poems by Emily O’Neill
for Jeremy Radin
if the Ursas bless us at dinner
tonight let me tell you a new lie
about beginning / some stars pointed
at two boys in the woods
boys raised by wolves
growing up into an iron city
but let’s say wolves only
raise other wolves
until they glow between the trees
& build a city of wind where time lives
unanswerable / if ever I find a sky saying
history began in the paws of wild men
I will refute that sky & howl
another / will expand into a myth
regarding the difference between our hands
out the car windows & our hands stripped
of weapons, tools, skin / look
at all the bones left to glow
from the woods / look how
we mothered our hunger
down comes the cracked china
again. I told you to decide. sliding glass.
something to remember you by. I haven’t
walked in the dark since you left. ( I’m lying )
I’ve been listening to lowing traffic & far
as I can tell nobody’s coming for me.
nobody’s tied me with string or promised
pudding or pushed me under a kissing sprig.
those berries are poison, you know. I’m asinine
at momentum. worse with electricity. I get confused
because lightning makes magnets & vice
versa / you see, there just isn’t time to decide
who deserves to be spoiled. I saved you a plate. ask a question
& please involve physics. accelerate into the brick.
the noise will be cartoon / heart popped & locomotive
eyes. I’ve been listening to your clothes letting you leave
without them & it sounds like my feet burrowed into flannel
I wasn’t sure belonged here. it’s kind of like camping. you know
there’s a bear in the woods even though the woods are the yard
scorched when the fire got out of hand & the tent is your arm
around me like rough wool & the sting of tonic after an avalanche.
if I’d listened harder I could’ve heard the slope unwinding. instead, I have
this disaster diorama. toothpick trees. a bruised chalet. it’s snowing
again. what do I do? telling the story feels so ridiculous.
yes, a bear. yes, a fire. & then a flood of cold so thick
it floated us far enough from sleep that we can’t shrug off nightmares
of poison painting every doorway & the fish we caught but couldn’t keep.
EMILY O’NEILL is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems and stories can be found in inter|rupture, Powder Keg, and Tinderbox, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of Yes Yes Books’ Pamet River Prize. She teaches writing at the Boston Center for Adult Education and edits poetry for Wyvern Lit.