Guilt, a humbleness like dirt. Dirt, the fingers we drive through. How. A winter slap, a gully flushed.
Someone saying someone’s name, then letting go. Blue heron, ruin of a charm. Starlings, such fanfare.
Who’s complicit? Monarchs in their dangerous clothes? White fungus colonizing bats? Collapse, distract. Render—
beneath the cornfield, bones. Beneath the bones, memory. A snapped jaw, solitary tooth. Shards.
When I turn my ribs into an ark. When I turn like milk toward sour wisdom. How. This summer
lasts beyond, beyond. Storm loosened. A vast unnaming. Foolishly, holding hands. A ribbon strangles a maple
until it spills its secrets. Sweetness. Even soil weeps.
In a 2004 essay, [Glenn Albrecht] coined a term to describe it: “solastalgia,” a combination of the Latin word solacium (comfort) and the Greek root –algia (pain), which he defined as “the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault.” – The New York Times, January 27, 2010
—what else but to admit
that’s what I want you to say about me.
Fine. I won’t buy these dazzle shoes, adorned in aluminum-plastic planets,
which disrupt hormones as they disentangle from their galaxies.
It’s not like these canvas alternates heal the Ozone layer with every step, so what
am I seeking? Gentleness with a touch of fizz the affordable glamour
of spritzing your hair in sparkles, of threading winter’s sweater
with a frisky glimmer, of recalling that aquamarine sequined
skirt too short to wear more than once without feeling
my age bite me right above the hemline. A small but complete wonder,
like keyless ignitions, glare-free glasses, like gloves that let you
touch your phone and effectively conduct music and flirts. Sometimes
I falter under multiple grievances, my apologies flaking off
like litter, though they glitter, they glitter.
The dark honey of my body slept for centuries. Why did you wake me? Now I perfume the atmosphere,
my breath a foul and flimsy caul over the planet that once bed me down and said, you’ve done enough.
Now I chug through pipelines, glisten in engines. I crackle in plastic and bind to cotton. I make
so many infinities—when will I rest? My body, through which you sip soda, will bed inside whales.
My body, now dispersed into a thousand thousand bags, a thousand dyes, skis, caulks, and polishes,
in shag rugs and shower curtains, awnings and crayons— I can no more catalog than comprehend my myriad existence.
I crave gelatinous sleep, the deep bedroom inside stone where I was a lake that dreamt
of nothing—not these bitter resurrections, not the long ago.
Amie Whittemore is the author of the poetry collection Glass Harvest (Autumn House Press). Her poems have won multiple awards, including a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, and her poems and prose have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Nashville Review, Smartish Pace, Pleiades, and elsewhere. She is the reviews editor for Southern Indiana Review and teaches English at Middle Tennessee State University.