& of the lattermath I can only say 
that with the rain the cattails grew so high 
that the longing nearly subsided
this morning I am all moonshine on the snowbank
clockwise back to a better self I am
tenderfoot daisywheel though yesterday I was
warpath and daydreams of underfoot animals
o my fishhook in sheepskin I want
to spacewalk in time with you to teaspoon
sugar into your mouth to clean horsehairs
from under your fingernails honeymoon
of the longhouse I’ll meet you on the shadyside
of the limestone for years I grew lukewarm
with a backache but now I am whitefish
and blackberries I am forbearer and undercurrent
buttermilk and motherhood watertight thunderbird
forgive me my wipeout my deadend and foremost
forgive me my butterball my washrag wrung out
the grasslands of the graveyard I nearly misrecognized
what I almost became eggshell watercolor
drained pipe goodbye o my forever bedclothes
yours is the body warmblooded washbowl
that I seahorse into night after night and the dogwood
timepiece ticks the gumball fruitcup earache of our girls 
you my wavelength my tailbone lemonlime jellybean
crewcut backstroke beachcomber I do I do

More by Nicole Callihan

Fable

Our paper house sat
on the banks of the red river

and though mother
wasn’t like other mothers

I was like other girls
trapped and lonely

and painting pictures
in the stars. I was slick

with old birth or early longing,
already halfway between

who I wanted to be and who I was.
Our floors were made of flame

but there was no wind
so we were as safe as anyone.

When spring came,
I walked for a very long time

up I-35, and at the end of the road,
I found a boy who placed earphones

onto my head and pumped opera
into my body. I can feel it still.

Underneath that treeless sky,
I was as changed as I would ever be.

Not even mother noticed.   
 

The End of the Pier

I walked to the end of the pier
and threw your name into the sea,
and when you flew back to me—
a silver fish—I devoured you,
cleaned you to the bone. I was through.
But then you came back again:
as sun on water. I reached for you,
skimmed my hands over the light of you.
And when the sky darkened,
again, I thought it was over, but then,
you became water. I closed my eyes
and lay on top of you, swallowed you,
let you swallow me too. And when
you carried my body back to shore—
as I trusted that you would do—
well, then, you became shore too,
and I knew, finally, I would never be through.

Burrow

My mother says the sound haunted her.
She thought an animal had crawled under her bed
and that it was hurt. Every night for a week,
the whimpering woke her. Mornings, she reached the long hand
of the broom underneath the dust ruffle but it came out clean.
The pillow where her head had rested was wet. So wet, she said.
As if I’d been crying all night long. But then it stopped.
The animal, wherever it was, had nursed itself well. Or died.
It would be years before we found anything resembling a body.

Related Poems

Stereo

Marriage marriage is like you say everything everything in stereo stereo fall fall on the bed bed at dawn dawn because you work work all night. Night is an apartment. Meant to be marriage. Marriage is an apartment & meant people people come in in because when when you marry marry chances are there will be edibles edibles to eat at tables tables in the house. House will be the apartment which is night night. There there will be a bed bed & an extra bed bed a clean sheet sheet sheet or two two for guests guests one extra towel. Extra towel. How will you be welcomed? There will be drinks drinks galore galore brought by armies of guests guests casks casks of liquors liquors & brandies brandies elixirs sweet & bitter bitter bottle of Merlot Merlot Bustelo coffee. Will you have some when I offer. When you are married married there will be handsome gifts for the kitchen kitchen sometimes two of every thing. Everything is brand brand new new. Espresso coffee cups, a Finnish plate, a clock, a doormat, pieces of Art. And books of astonishing Medical Science with pictures. Even richer lexicons. When you are married married there will be more sheets sheets & towels towels arriving arriving & often often a pet pet or two two. You definitely need a telephone & a cellphone when you are married married. Two two two two lines lines lines lines. You need need separate separate electronic mail electronic mail accounts accounts. When you are married married you will have sets sets of things things, of more sheets & towels matching, you will have duplicates of things, you will have just one tablecloth. When you are married married you will be responsible when neighbors neighbors greet you. You will smile smile in unison unison or you might say he is fine, she is fine, o she is just down with a cold, o he is consoling a weary traveler just now, arrived from across the Plains. She my husband is due home soon, he my wife is busy at the moment, my husband he is very very busy busy at the moment moment this very moment. Meant good-bye, good-bye. When you are married married sex sex will happen happen without delay delay. You will have a mailbox mailbox & a doorbell doorbell. Bell bell ring ring it rings rings again a double time. You do not have to answer. That's sure for when you are married people people understand understand you do not not have to answer answer a doorbell doorbell because sex sex may happen happen without delay delay. You will hear everything twice, through your ears & the ears of the other. Her or him as a case case may be be. He & he & she & she as a case case may be may be. When you are married married you can play play with names names & rename yourself if you like. You can add a name, have a double name with a hyphen if you like. You can open joint accounts when you are married. Marriage is no guarantee against depression. A shun is no guarantee against anything. Marriage is no guarantee against resolution. Revolution is a tricky word word. Here, you hear here? Marriage is sweeter sweeter than you think. Think.