Two Poems by Natalie Eilbert
Again I chew the cud before I waste beneath myself
I sit in a café and pour out. Impartiality of organs twisted
into weird suns. A man I called mentor pushed me forward
on a couch and reached up. When I forward-fold I think
of his hands working his body up, my body working his body
up. I disgust the image. My carriage spills. I came to understand
shame in a bed of marigolds. I stared at a bed of marigolds
as my mother told me of my cousin’s suicide. My feet inched
the black soil, the shame-full yellow faces in each flower.
How cheap to be arranged, plotted, nourished. My carriage
spills. They could never be wild and still radiate shame.
Shame unto shame as oceans unto oceans. Kip strung up
in a room, dead from his bad remains. Marigolds extrude
a fear-full nature. I was so alarmed by my lack of care.
So young I was in my dimension. I was still in death’s
dimension. I boasted to my mother my nonexistence.
Death had yet to show me the shame of being alive. I believed
the impact of my nonexistence carved my existence.
My carriage spills. There was an unspeakable, indistinguishable
knot in this liminal phase. I came to see this as choice. Choice
stroked on a liminal plane. In answer my animal eye
reached through oyster layers toward oil, slime-wet rock
of humanity. And so human form pitied me as I humanly formed.
Marigolds blinked above my origin story. What more
could I be but the texture of blanched skin. Drip.
Anne Boyer says on her blog there is no “listening”
to one’s body, which in all circumstances is providing
the wrong information. The doctors plan to cut
my mother’s throat open to remove harmful nodules,
my mother who grew up wanting a penis and no
uncles, no sixties-era rape tactics, no loss of her firstborn.
How will disease be for her how will disease be for me.
I am more lonely than I’ve been since a man held me down
as if to drown me in the lake of his needs, empty pizzaboxes
stacked as though to collect that flattening residue.
Readers balk at the violence of such active sub-pred phrases
when they extend out the body not like verbs but skin
over skin, skin over organs, skin over overactive nodes.
I didn’t want to be a girl like this. The woman-body
glides over my sleeping and drips a syrup in my ear.
My mind is precious. It dreams of removal, as all
precious things wish for somatic omission. Poor fishbones
skull of a mind. My carriage empties. I fear hormones,
how they’ll cut me open to see my fault lines, hypnotize
the kraken of the woman-body gliding me awake.
Yesterday I searched my shoes and remembered.
I remembered a boyfriend who pushed my cheek onto pillows
and told me he removed my clothes better than I could
dress myself. I could dress myself. Out the window, snow.
The abuse of men, they voice their hate of me now
collecting accounts of fibril damage. They say how could you
say I did this. My mom closes my book to banish
her opening throat. When will indifference come,
says Berryman at his father’s tomb. My carriage fills.
It means to draft a letter to all of them, a wet damp scrawl.
NATALIE EILBERT’s debut collection Swan Feast was published this year by Coconut Books. She is the author of two previous chapbooks, Conversation with the Stone Wife (Bloof Books) and And I Shall Again Be Virtuous (Big Lucks Books). Her poems and essays are published or forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, The Offing, Tin House, Guernica, and elsewhere. Recently a winner of the 2015 Arkadii Dragomoshchenko Prize for Innovative Poetry, she is the founding editor of The Atlas Review.