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Natalie Eilbert

Natalie Eilbert is the author of Indictus (Noemi Press, 2018), winner of Noemi Press's 2016 Poetry Prize, and Swan Feast (Bloof Books, 2015). She was the recipient of the 2016 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellowship at University of Wisconsin–Madison and is the founding editor of The Atlas Review. She teaches in the English program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and lives in Madison.

By This Poet

3

Let Everything Happen to You

As a girl I made my calves into little drinking elephants,
I would stare at the wonder of their pumping muscles,
the sup of their leg-trunks. I resuscitated a bunny once
from my cat’s electric teeth. I was on neighborhood watch
to save animals, as many as I could. My damage was easy.
My plainspoken voice is a watercolor. I’m afraid of it
as I’m afraid of what the world will do to color. I don’t
think I’ve done much. A table leans against itself
to be a table. I hold nothing but this air. I give it off.
I want a literature that is not made from literature, says Bhanu.
Last night my legs ached a low-tone. I imagined the body
giving itself up for another system. Dandelions tickling
out of my knee. The meniscus a household of worms.
It is okay to bear. My apartment hums in a Rilke sense.
A pain blooms. I am told that it’s okay to forego details
of what happened. I am told it doesn’t matter now.
I want to write sentences for days. I want days to not
be a sentence. We put men in boxes and sail them away.
Justice gave me an amber necklace. I tried to swallow
as many as I could.

Afterlife

There is no life after death. Why
              should there be. What on

earth would have us believe this.
              Heaven is not the American

highway, blackened chicken alfredo
              from Applebee’s nor the

clown sundae from Friendly’s. Our
              life, this is the afterdeath,

when we blink open, peeled and
              ready to ache. Years ago

my aunt banged on the steering, she
              insisted there had to be a

God, a heaven. We were on our
              way to a wedding. I would

have to sit at the same table as the
              man who saw no heaven

in me. Today I am thinking about
              Mozart, of all people, who

died at 35 mysteriously, perhaps of
              strep. What a strange cloth

it is to live. But that we came from
              death and return to it, made

different by form, shaped again back
              into anti–, anti–. On my run,

I think of Jack Gilbert, who said we
              must insist while there is still

time, but insist toward what. Why we
              must fill the void with light—

isn’t that our human insistence? But
              we drift into a distance of

distance until proximity fails, our
              name lifts away with any

future concerns, the past a flattened
              coin that cannot spin. I am

matter spun from death’s wool—and
              I bewilder the itch, I who am

I am just so happy to go.

Crescent Moons

When the forensics nurse inspected me, she couldn’t
see the tenderness he showed me after. My walk home
 

squirmed sore with night. I passed the earthworms
displaced to sidewalk, their bodies apostrophed
 

in the sun. I did not anticipate a grief
so small, my noun of a prayer, Eat dirt to make dirt.
 

Took a man’s hand as he led me to cave. So long
as I breathed, I could huff violets in his dank, practice
 

earth’s gasp. Mother lifts daughter, daughter casts
look at camera, a killer, a stick in the mud. I hold
 

my own hand. When the forensic nurse inspected
me, I described the house, historic blue. Asked me
 

to push my hips down. Little crescent moons
where his nails stabbed into me. She gave me
 

the word abrasion so gently I offered consent. Blue
as the moon when I sighed wait, blue as the no of my

throat. Abrasion, possibly extended form of red.
Harm results in a starry night too, many galaxies
 

scraped under the nail of a heavenly body. Ah my
second earth, its wounds hardened into swallowed
 

prophylaxis, an injection pooling between muscle
and skin. A woke seed. Deadarmed anti-moons
 

aggregated. A storm can travel seeds up to 30 miles
away. They dust on the sidewalks like lost data.
 

He did not intend Did not. Bloody speculum
a telescope searching the angry night sky for proof.