Courtney Hilden, Dragging The Moon Part I

The Forest Arms

In Detroit, all the damaged
buildings look like piles
of phoenix
ashes that are starting
to stir, their edges glowing, inflamed as
Jesus’s sacred heart or maybe like the sea yellowing
underneath right
before Venus’s crown hit
the surface. The death of a home

should be hailed
with the Holding
of Breath, when your eyes are seeing but without
your mind comprehending the home’s
brains are being dashed
on the highway. My imagination would have

left it at that, but then a tradition began, first with polka
dots and junk and now they are hanging
plants from every broken
window on Forest
and Third. There’s that one
with the ambitions to be a modern
ziggurat, Eden separated
into stairs: Vines
wrapped around every old heater, canopies slammed
against the roof. I can climb the floors that look

out onto Prentis and admire the urban
prairie, inside and out, as the fields restore
themselves so the animals can return to their Grandfather’s place,

as I am returning now
to my Grandfather’s first
home – and eventual last. In a flight
of new-fangled fancy, they have started a small
cemetery in the basement, natural
burial only. The underarms

of this forest will one day embrace
me too; I’ll feed a new

The Law of Conservation of Mass

Those glossies that stand
at attention as you are
your oranges on the conveyer
belt have existed a long time. Once they had

riddles in them for women to
ponder in the parlors,
their miniature
dogs shivering in their laps. But unlike

you, I do not
read for nostalgia, for a time
when one-shoed Daddy Killers were
clever enough to sleep
with their Mother. Nothing comes

from nothing. I cannot make
bread rise out of an empty pan, so every
time you will turn
on my barren
hands; you could do
with a reminder: you were the original
nothing in this equation, so maybe
the problem is not so much the result
as the fear you are looking
at in the mirror.

The Bed is Big Enough for Both of Us

One night I am
going to discover if
the seagulls you
accidentally press into
your palms are flying
here or away.

The Patron Saint of the Female Orgasm

After Theresa of Avila
gives up her shoes because of an autobiography she read where the consummation
of the blessed and Jesus ended with cigarettes on tile
floors, sheets twisted
in sweat. She wants to lie
in a bed with folds of her own
history. She wants to tell God to take
the money on the dresser and to get the hell
out. She’ll take what confessors
she wants as lovers. Then you told

her that you didn’t hire her
to be joyful, just for the dishes. She stole
a man’s habit and then into the night she swept
herself away; a soiled

tablecloth stuffed into the keyhole of the door, so that when
you pulled it open, you would yank
every last unwashed
plate to the floor, rendered
unusable from inevitable

My Sisters Are Not of the Same Denomination as Me

As appointed eldest, the urge to do so creeps up on me in the late afternoon when each of them bows over the porcelain throne, their altar, their salvation, their ruler, all rolled into one unforgivable/ing god. I have screamed before them about the one true path, about god as un-understanding of body, since he lacks one. Yet no one can separate these sister-priestesses from their flesh. They count everyday each dangerous carb. They are guppies surrounded by traps they address as shrines. Even if they avoid the claws of every glossy and the snap dragons with saliva dripping from every tooth, there will still be the bog that begs girls to go down just a little bit farther. Only a little more, and that will be enough, you will reach the end. And then there are still the ghosts that follow me—and you—outside the walls. You will be standing on a street corner and see someone skinnier than you: it’ll whisper in your ear, your throat will go dry. You will try one day to buy a new dress. Every time you look in the mirror, your face will be made incomprehensible. She’ll laugh high-pitched and murderous. Every time you meet an ex’s new girl, you’ll sense someone behind you, reminding you that you cannot fit through the walls to escape this party. I went to a café to see an old cell-mate, and saw she had increased by thousands of cells. Last year I was starving myself, Convert. Before breaking bread, we shared in the original definition of conspiracy: breathing the same air. We ordered for our desires, not others’; It is a good religion. It is a loving God. Once you have confessed yourself out you have no use for a defense.

Courtney Hilden is an Assistant Editor at Profane. Her work has appeared in Autostraddle, Fry Havoc, and The Mary Sue, among others.

Read Part II here.

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