low red door I enter in
the desert          slaked by rain

in this a kind of format
an interstice      a splice

between the sad time
and the next      sad time

there was a voice that led me           waste yourself
to bone          gouge a barren canyon          in your eye

among the shattered columns
of white          astonished salt

the quenchless     white horizon
above the starving-ground

I stoop to enter          doorframe
weathered      marked with blood

within a kind of corridor
a passageway      a shunt

to lead me toward
a broken          alibi


(what watches from the margin
your belly-knot an oval

I      the zero infant
zone of wish

derivative already
compounding      I accrue

in insequential snippets
accumulate      your mother’s

hated face        I helical
and writhing     you eager

to forget          the weeks
of tattered weather

what the snow gathered up in its hands—


according to a template           compounding
I accrue

bit-torrent                                cryptographic hash

#humandownload                    #mydomain
infernal code                            transcription

infernal code                            transpose
error                              there is               error

no mistake


inside the perfect ferment
of my encircled dark

I am a fern           unfurling           to myself
the mallet of a fist               an eye

mere furrow in the fine down of my face
I am a pure acoustic ear           a larva or a snail

perhaps I am a seahorse           kicking
with my body          toward the light—

I am all pulse                  and membrane
I do not know I am

tethered to the human          to the body
its intent          I do not know

my immanent address        among the crooked objects
the dresser                  and the mirror

the struggle of the narrative           the strangle
of the name                 and who am I

to monster forth           from embryonic pool
that you will make

but will not          mother me)


inside the arid           cavern           a woman
carved from salt        her face a pox

of crystal                    her torso, twisted
gyrates toward the door      I touch her

with my ragged hands           I lick
her unclean skin                     remove

the single votive from my bag
I crouch to strike the matchhead

set the flame to juniper and rue
far off, a drop of water          perspires

through the rock                    my singular
petition             Sister

may I		 never bear


(what watches from the margin:
compounding                 I amass

relentless                    in the doublecloth
of night                       I thread

my vessels                    wind
my bones                      in this mitosis

I inspool myself
as outside on lattice           the slipstich

of wisteria           twines           from left
to right                 its hook        and I

incessant             a day’s amalgamed blossom
we burgeon           we exceed—)


את אלהים ברא בראשית                         את אלהים ברא בראשית
Bereshit Bara Elohim et                   Bereshit Bara Elohim et

& God was a spirit hovering            over the face of the waters
& God was a spirit moving               over the face of the waters

& She created alphabets                  & flung them flaming              through the Void
& breathed them into every living thing


(I spread like damp through drywall
unsheathe my cloudy eye

my muscular intent
the big          reveal

I force my frame          through crevices
wrenching                    toward the light

in all my blunt              & terrifying need—


there was a voice that led me          the child
makes herself           if this is so

what is it she unmakes                the threads inside me
churn & snap                               my body turning

inward on itself                            how many ways
to flay it                                        how many ways

to starve                                        that aleph
flaming signature                          gone silent                in my face

comprised no script that either of us knew


emerging through the corridor
the desert          slaked by rain

between the sad time
and the next                    sad time

among the quenchless columns
of white          astonished salt

the shattered          white horizon
above the starving ground

I touch the weathered doorframe
marked with dirt and blood

in this a kind of format
an interstice                     a splice

I hoist             my heavy pack
I make            my way

Copyright © 2018 Alix Anne Shaw. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review, Fall-Winter 2017.