Peacock Island

Jennifer Kronovet
From the island
he saw the castle
 
and from the castle
he saw the island.
 
Some people live
this way—wife/
 
mistress/wife/mistress.
But this story isn’t
 
the one I’m telling.
From the island
 
he saw the castle
and that made him
 
distant from power
and from the castle
 
he saw the island
and that made him distant
 
from imagining
what power can do.
 
The story I’m telling is
the war coming.
 
How can you go from
island to castle to island
 
to castle and not give
birth to a war? No.
 
I still can’t explain it.

More by Jennifer Kronovet

With the Boy, with Myself

He has thoughts he doesn’t
think about. Birds might wake him
but they don’t. My thoughts 
feel like speech—how one animal 
makes nature—until I speak to him.
We use words like a tree uses light: 
there is a process we don’t see but do.

A kid I don’t know hits another
I don’t know. I say stop stop 
to myself. Speech keeps
happening against me. 
The boy wakes to cry.

Father Tongue

Each issue of Blade magazine describes a man and how he came to be a person of knives. There are veins of metal in rock and in a family and in one person’s diorama. Some is mined for weaponry, some for language. Some knives are photographed like ladies in a nudie magazine, hovering above place without a human to hold them. Their blades reflect nothing like the back of my mind when I look. Blade at the dining room table, in the bathroom, on the couch, throughout my striated landscape leading to leaving. 

The language of knives includes: quenching, hilt, damascus, hollow ground, skeleton handle, balisong. “Song of Myself” has: loveroot, souse, killing-clothes, chant of dilation, fallen architecture. Whitman was too late to sow me as an orchard for harvesting the hybrid fruits of our thinking. I had held my father’s knives and could feel how they fit him, and he was multitudes to me by being different from himself. Whitman was merely me, but different. I am still waiting for my mind to fit a language the way a knife can fit my hand. I want to wield them together to cut my past down, the opposite of screaming.

With the Boy, Outside

Twigs collect 
by the side of the path.

Wild flowers space 
themselves. Pigeons 

respond instantly to being 
chased. The ground rises

to the tree. If I look 
through the boy—to loss, 

to a future, to else—
nothing is enough 

to hold the ground 
into one place. 

This is your foot,
I say. But people don’t 

talk like that. 
I watch people gather 

their faces into 
thoughts I can’t 

hear. This is the space
between us, I say 

while waving my hands 
to make the distance.

Related Poems

Earthquake Country Before Final Chemotherapy

For the first time tonight,
as I put my wife to bed
I didn't have to shove her off me.

She turned away in her sleep.

I wondered what was wrong with my chest.

I felt it, and the collar bone
spiked up, and where she'd rest
her cheek were ribs.

Who wants to cuddle a skeleton?

My skeleton wandered from the house
and out onto the street.

He came, after much wandering, to the edge of a bay
where a long bridge headed out—
the kind that hangs itself with steel

and sways as if the wind could take
away its weight.

There were mountains in the distance—
triangles of cardboard—
or perhaps the mist was tricking his eyes.

The instant the mist made him doubtful,
it turned to rain.

The rain covered everything. The holes
in his face were so heavy
he wondered if the water was thickening—
if he was leaching into them.

He panicked. Perhaps he was gunked up
with that disgusting paste,
flesh, all over again.

If I were alive I'd have told him
I was nothing like what he was feeling—

that the rain felt more like
the shell of a crab
than the way I'd held him.

That it felt more like him.

But I wasn't alive—
I was the ghost in the bridge
willing the cars to join me,

telling them that death was not wind,
was not weight,

was not mist,
and certainly not the mountains—

that it was the breaking apart,

the replacement of who, when, how, and where
with what.

When my skeleton looked down
he was corrupted

in the femur by fracture,
something swelling within.

Out of him leaked pink moss.
Water took it away.