Deer Skull Floating Over Blue Mountains (Four Panels)


Something like want but not                               for the body
how I look at a person and feel nothing most of the time
            except a desire to touch the wrist           of someone tired
who has said kind things to me
to want to blurt I love that you trust me
             that you look at me with such a full attention     asking     nothing
of me

and instead say I’m sorry someone treated you like shit
We’re home in how we listen
I don’t want to fuck or be fucked by anyone
I just want to hide safe in your heart cavity
I just want you to be well to love each sharp tooth in your throat as yours
How we all want to be made landscape with vertebrae
          someone could study with interest for hours
What I know from paintings of the virgin in her robe
      —prude church girl stuck-up bitch god how I have to keep saying
          is how some blues fade over time to just the lead
If I start licking the cobalt from your vein now in a hundred years it will
fade inside me to a ghost I can’t stop loving



I’m sorry I could never soften a space inside me for the folks
who wanted me           the ones who leaned back against the railing
            of the fossil ashbed where we worked
            or asked if I wanted to dance after months of being friends
each time I said no to the question of laying beside each other
            I wanted to cup that face turning away from me
      jaw tightening wanted to say thank you for making me feel worth the risk I am whittling us out of whatever light’s left
of an unearthed horse mounted on this wall above the ashbed
and thinking of the dreams I’ve had the last few nights under desert stars
of platonic touch: a palm pressed my back
           during birth       someone embracing me when I am naked
           in the shower her black shirt sleeve scraping my ear
           someone offering their warm arm to help me down the stairs
I love when someone is turned away from me
           so fully absorbed in what they’re thinking how they’re breathing When I see a deer I smell my mother
           painting a skull on a deep blue background
           wind in the sockets dark hollows of fosse of cranium



Did you know that I drew you, friend?              Your throat steepling
          blue sky with the long drop of a raven
welled like ink            our minds are something akin to one another
          Friend we are used to making space only for others
I cut open your heart: there’s nothing
to be afraid of              rattlesnake
babies nesting warm in your     chambers each of your pulses a wall
coaxing them to sleep               onyx into juniper through
                       high way unto                tendon undone by sun
            we don’t have to kiss     anybody
                                                  Sorry what was I saying
it’s just that you slid into the room on soft socks
just that you started humming that song again        without even realizing
it’s just your t-shirt with the holes in it
No one I love is mine              and this is what I love most
about living                even though
knowing each name                means missing someone
no one and nothing we love belongs to us       not even our breath
I can love you because I live alone and can go hide my spine in glacier
We can rest against my sick guts
             my belly a red rock wall ending in stars nail points in a night sky                     where dragonflies dart where I could catch each one hide it
                          between your shoulderblades for safekeeping



My mother has spent a lifetime trying to draw her mother
as a skull and I have spent a lifetime trying to draw her
             gray threads of hair from out of my mouth
             her spotted hands tapping a paint brush four times on
             my back bristles dabbing cadmium cerulean lavender foothills
I have tried to distill everything down to this
the sun sparing nothing on the canvas
             my mother drawing me morphined in the hospital bed
             closing the studio door again after I asked love’s question
             so I had to watch her paint through the gaps in the hinges
I am painting a vagina I am painting my mother
I am making a page
                                           I hold my body and its word
                                           giving it space breath like she taught me
don’t pull back the white sheet from the canvas she’s working on
learn to read the shadows the undercoat of blue
             the lines she has drawn erased drawn again
             gray heel prints from her lead-coarsened hand



From You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis (Omnidawn, 2023) by Kelly Weber. Copyright © 2023 by Kelly Weber. Used with the permission of the publisher.