by Gabrielle Bates
This is how mud is made again.
It would be on a riverbank. Cahaba. Coosa.
Specific the place and thus the lilies—
from the center, large white spiders
born dead, limbs first—
everything in its order, but torqued
the way angel and man, all night by water,
wrestle the space between
sibling and lover. I want to pull back the pale
membranous corona of the watching,
I want only its neck thrust under mine
lifting my head. A fight so alive
it can’t be called from any mouth of reason
by its so-called name.
Thousands of the thinnest eggs conceived
swollen, swelling . . . A pair careens
with limping mind among them until
subtle movement in the dark, every ovary splits,
bends with heaviness the stems,
submerging whiteness in the water with their weight.
Larger than all the lily’s resemblances, its lesson:
a body is stretched with every perception,
renamed according to what it has survived.
Cough of shoal grit, crusted thighs—
outward I bend at the sun-is-rising prod
of your thumb into the joint of my hip—
lightless, gradually, no longer.
Gabrielle Bates works for Open Books: A Poem Emporium and helps edit the Seattle Review, Poetry Northwest, Broadsided Press, and Bull City Press. Her poems and poetry comics appear or are forthcoming in Poetry, New England Review, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere, and she is the recipient of support from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Hugo House, and Artist Trust. She is originally from Birmingham, Alabama. www.gabriellebat.es / twitter: @GabrielleBates