Audrey Walls
 
 

Mercury

My body is a

lightbulb. I shake my

head and hear the soft

singing of a filament

broken.

*

A hundred clear beads

reach my nape and

run south. Disconnect,

I say. Unfurl. The

clouded air. The

stones of my eyes.

*

The moon is high and

my knees are bee-

stung, swollen in the

yellow light. I have

come here to

apologize. I wanted

too much, I disturbed

the nest.

*

This is the word for

glass. These are the

words for ghost. Even

though you are still a

child, you must know.

How many rooms will

you enter before you

finally sleep?

*

Shape-shifter, I

cannot offer you

safety. I, too, am only

a thief. Half-water,

half-silver, we reel

against each other.

Our touch has always

been poison.



Cyanosis I

How the machinist’s hands become one callus after gear and cog, after years of wire. The holly trees so dark, waxed night in every leaf. The air caught in a mason jar. This is how it happens: my ears are dead, my hands are dead, then my feet, my face. I could say I am dead. I would cut off my fingers. Let me disconnect, but nothing. This body, this machinery. My veins a winter creek. Every vessel left empty and cold.



Cyanosis II

Nobody teaches you how to be your own keeper. How to create insulation, the layering of synthetics and wool. The wind doesn’t care. The wind is just the wind. You fall asleep to the sound of electronic rain in your hotel room while the snowdrifts pile inch upon inch. The trucks here never shed their ploughs. You must bury yourself in a hole to keep warm. You must bury yourself to keep alive.



Cyanosis III

It was the first year we didn’t want winter. The cold was no longer mystery, but fact: how we turn blue, a cyanosis of forgetting. We walk the dog to the lake, her black paws dripping. Below the ice, layers of waste sent off from the town. First the salt sheds, now the factories’ heavy metals: mercury, cobalt, lead. On the shore, the dog prods at a dead fish tangled in line and hook. I pull her away from the carcass.


awallsAudrey Walls’ poetry has recently found homes in Meridian and Mississippi Review. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she serves as a poetry editor of failbetter.