Rita Chapman/december magazine
Rita Rouvalis Chapman’s poetry has appeared most recently in Red Earth Review, Rat’s Ass Review, and Bellingham Review. She is a student in the MFA program at the University of Missouri – St. Louis and teaches high school English. She is the poetry editor for december magazine.
The One with Violets in her Lap
Here is the brick made from good red
Missouri clay. The corner has cracked
and sheared off a spot for the spider to pull
the frothy white from the hollow of her lap.
It is easily swept away. The sharp pits of the brick
pull my skin from my skin in the sweeping; they collect
the ash of me. The green pollen powders the surface,
the sunsodden grain and the dust that spangles
down from the living trees; each pit is a toehold
for the inchworm who has floated greenly
down his invisible strand. His feet stick to the hot
rough clay. The good red dog with the soft mouth that holds birds whole
and unharmed has bitten off and dropped from their stalks
the honey-scented lilies to be trodden to the tiles;
we are flowerdeep in their rot and urgency.
The good red bricks will blaze and cool and
the honey-scented lilies will close up against the night.
I will die suddenly. Who will pour the wine over
me in celebration and lament? In the dark hallway,
I will reach out two empty arms. The soft desire of
death and the empty down bed will greet the warm violet dawn,
will greet the warmth of two sunburned arms that dare to
reach up and around a bent neck that is no longer there.
I am honey -sealed, sea-dark; the world is changing; I am still.
The sheepskin will be pure and supple; the ink black and sharp.
Here – grab this cactus.
Most of its thorns are soft as infant hair —
the rest are the needles
found in certain parks.
You know, the places even the geese
won’t go. Stick with the purity of my point, now.
Stick with the way a square head thinks.
I am sure we will right this ship of state.
The conclusion is abroad this night, nodding
in the yellow ally where light and
space sneak away for a kiss. It bites the cold
five ways to the bony galaxy — the whips
and sweats of dusk give me vertigo migraines.
God, the fresh threat of the text
message that’s making the screw stick.
A little chocolate please,
enough to spread sleep to my tongue.
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