Two Poems from Liz Lampman

Spell for Burning Gender

with a line from Elizabeth Bishop


Call on the moon: illuminate! For night
recalls the ache of barely kindled flame
and I the sweat in which our bodies met—

the dance untimed and breath like antlers crowned
our pleasant sacrifice. Eight limbs entwined
as gender burned away, so what remained

were iridescent skeletons expel
-ling plumes of turquoise breath. Rebirth by
smoke and spells and tears—everything is spells

or tears. And love’s the burning boy, just as
the poet said, and indestructible
the body’s dreams. Of his demise we smile

and name ourselves anew from softer sounds—
the moon, its belly growing round then dark,
sweet smoke to reinvent the world again.



I Will Always Count the Windows

The heart, too, is porous
—Maggie Nelson


Already—what have we done?
Like a lemon, halved and left
to dry on the counter,
a wheel to nowhere. What
are we doing? A chip of log
smoldering but never
burning out, the cat too old
to clean itself entirely.
Completion, a tin myth.
When I look at you, I see
a house I don’t deserve.
A faucet’s running
without cease, water speaking
through the walls like
an aunt or a close friend.
She, the pipes, the water, the aunt,
will always cup life to my
lips, and I will always
count the citrus windows
ribbed with pith—message
of some sort in the symmetrical,
shrinking pulp. Teacher? Auntie?
Already I wonder. It appears
I love too much
to see cat to grave,
coal to ash. Or, is it love
that aerates the organ,
punching holes in the sod
to bleed the thing
of building pressure.





Image: Original from NASA. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel, public domain CC0 image