Crescent Moons

When the forensics nurse inspected me, she couldn’t
see the tenderness he showed me after. My walk home
 

squirmed sore with night. I passed the earthworms
displaced to sidewalk, their bodies apostrophed
 

in the sun. I did not anticipate a grief
so small, my noun of a prayer, Eat dirt to make dirt.
 

Took a man’s hand as he led me to cave. So long
as I breathed, I could huff violets in his dank, practice
 

earth’s gasp. Mother lifts daughter, daughter casts
look at camera, a killer, a stick in the mud. I hold
 

my own hand. When the forensic nurse inspected
me, I described the house, historic blue. Asked me
 

to push my hips down. Little crescent moons
where his nails stabbed into me. She gave me
 

the word abrasion so gently I offered consent. Blue
as the moon when I sighed wait, blue as the no of my

throat. Abrasion, possibly extended form of red.
Harm results in a starry night too, many galaxies
 

scraped under the nail of a heavenly body. Ah my
second earth, its wounds hardened into swallowed
 

prophylaxis, an injection pooling between muscle
and skin. A woke seed. Deadarmed anti-moons
 

aggregated. A storm can travel seeds up to 30 miles
away. They dust on the sidewalks like lost data.
 

He did not intend Did not. Bloody speculum
a telescope searching the angry night sky for proof.

More by Natalie Eilbert

Let Everything Happen to You

As a girl I made my calves into little drinking elephants,
I would stare at the wonder of their pumping muscles,
the sup of their leg-trunks. I resuscitated a bunny once
from my cat’s electric teeth. I was on neighborhood watch
to save animals, as many as I could. My damage was easy.
My plainspoken voice is a watercolor. I’m afraid of it
as I’m afraid of what the world will do to color. I don’t
think I’ve done much. A table leans against itself
to be a table. I hold nothing but this air. I give it off.
I want a literature that is not made from literature, says Bhanu.
Last night my legs ached a low-tone. I imagined the body
giving itself up for another system. Dandelions tickling
out of my knee. The meniscus a household of worms.
It is okay to bear. My apartment hums in a Rilke sense.
A pain blooms. I am told that it’s okay to forego details
of what happened. I am told it doesn’t matter now.
I want to write sentences for days. I want days to not
be a sentence. We put men in boxes and sail them away.
Justice gave me an amber necklace. I tried to swallow
as many as I could.

Afterlife

There is no life after death. Why
              should there be. What on

earth would have us believe this.
              Heaven is not the American

highway, blackened chicken alfredo
              from Applebee’s nor the

clown sundae from Friendly’s. Our
              life, this is the afterdeath,

when we blink open, peeled and
              ready to ache. Years ago

my aunt banged on the steering, she
              insisted there had to be a

God, a heaven. We were on our
              way to a wedding. I would

have to sit at the same table as the
              man who saw no heaven

in me. Today I am thinking about
              Mozart, of all people, who

died at 35 mysteriously, perhaps of
              strep. What a strange cloth

it is to live. But that we came from
              death and return to it, made

different by form, shaped again back
              into anti–, anti–. On my run,

I think of Jack Gilbert, who said we
              must insist while there is still

time, but insist toward what. Why we
              must fill the void with light—

isn’t that our human insistence? But
              we drift into a distance of

distance until proximity fails, our
              name lifts away with any

future concerns, the past a flattened
              coin that cannot spin. I am

matter spun from death’s wool—and
              I bewilder the itch, I who am

I am just so happy to go.

Related Poems

A water woman has no body

Emptiness is a blessing:
it can’t be owned if it doesn’t exist.
 
*
My father said to bloom but never fruit—
 
a small trickle 
eating its way through stone.
 
*
I am one kind of alive:
I see everything the water sees.
 
I told you a turn was going to come 
& turn the tower did.
 
What are the master’s tools 
but a way to dismantle him.
 
*
Who will replace the blood of my mother in me—
a cold spring rising.
 
She told me a woman made of water 
can never crack.
 
Of her defeat, she said
this is nothing.
 

100 Bells

My sister died. He raped me. They beat me. I fell
to the floor. I didn’t. I knew children,
their smallness. Her corpse. My fingernails.
The softness of my belly, how it could
double over. It was puckered, like children,
ugly when we cry. My sister died
and was revived. Her brain burst
into blood. Father was driving. He fell
asleep. They beat me. I didn’t flinch. I did.
It was the only dance I knew.
It was the kathak. My ankles sang
with 100 bells. The stranger
raped me on the fitted sheet.
I didn’t scream. I did not know
better. I knew better. I did not
live. My father said, I will go to jail
tonight because I will kill you. I said,
She died. It was the kathakali. Only men
were allowed to dance it. I threw
a chair at my mother. I ran from her.
The kitchen. The flyswatter was
a whip. The flyswatter was a flyswatter.
I was thrown into a fire ant bed. I wanted to be
a man. It was summer in Texas and dry.
I burned. It was a snake dance.
He said, Now I’ve seen a Muslim girl
naked. I held him to my chest. I held her
because I didn’t know it would be
the last time. I threw no
punches. I threw a glass box into a wall.
Somebody is always singing. Songs
were not allowed. Mother said,
Dance and the bells will sing with you.
I slithered. Glass beneath my feet. I
locked the door. I did not die. I did
not die. I shaved my head. Until the horns
I knew were there were visible.
Until the doorknob went silent.

I Might Have Dreamed This

For a short time after
the rape, I found I could

move things. Energy birds
swarmed from my brain.

With a witch's sense
of abandoned physics,

I set dolls rolling.
Back and forth. Like a

breathing sound.

Using only my night-powered
eyes, I pushed the lamp

to the dresser's edge.
I buried the mirrors

in avalanches of freshly
laundered underpants.

I never slept.

I did all these things
lying down.