I pick you up
& you are a child made of longing
clasped to my neck. Iridescent,
lovely, your inestimable tantrums,
I carry you back & forth
from the famine in your mind.

Your alphabet wraps itself
like a tourniquet
around my tongue.

Speak now, the static says.

A half-dressed woman named Truth
tells me she is a radio.

I'm going to ignore happiness
& victory.
I'm going to undo myself
with music.

I pick you up
& the naked trees lean
into the ocean where you arrived,
shaking chains & freedom
from your head.

No metaphor would pull you
out of your cage.

Light keens from the dead.
& I'm troubled
by my own blind touch.

Did the ocean release
my neck? Did the opal waves
blow our cries to shore?

You don't feel anything
in the middle of the night.

More by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Verguenza

Woman, I wish I didn't know your name.  
What could you be? Silence in my house 
& the front yard where the dogwood 
wouldn't make up its mind about flowers. 
Aren't you Nature? A stem cringing, half-
shadowed beneath a torque of rain. 
I too am leaving. I too am half-spun. 
The other day near the river
I bent down & Narcissus 
turned his immaculate mouth
away, refusing to caress
my howls. Silence in the trees
all around the shotgun house & that scent
of cedar whenever I dream.
I turn the light around on the ground, 
sweeping the red mud, holding 
the light like a rattler. Like a hood of 
poison, fitted over my face. Cobra 
woman, slicked with copperhead flutes. 
I too am fleeing. My face born
in a caul of music. Bravado.
The men come into the yard 
& pull all my clothes off, 
walk me into the house, 
into my own kitchen. 
Tell me not to say
say I'm wrong.