The body wanders through
Twilit cities and the chambers of memory
Seeks forgiveness at the throat of night
Lays its voice, its weapon down
Where wind bears it
Its hidden costs and all its longings
Its trying on of faces like shoes
Rubbing itself thin and dull
On the skins of buildings and
Power plants that soothe your song
When you’re gone who wears your clothes
The flat plains of childhood
In a nameless town
With its crumblings and must,
Its houses perched to take wing one day
Without notice, and maybe they will
After you’re gone,
Done haunting the library at fourteen
Paper piled like gold bars
In your blue-veined arms
And you’ll stretch yourself anywhere
You’re not wanted or seen
In Vs of trees and floors of mills
And edges of bodies of water
Where unmatched lovers
Pair like gloves
Leave cans and bandaids
Blooming rust bracelets around your ankle
As you fall.
You must climb a rooftop
once in your life,
scale yourself down to the size of a shingle,
lay flat and bare-backed,
scraping the moon
with your tongue and your hands
that can pry out a world,
can shake loose the ragged breath
of bats and winged wonders
you once imagined merely extinct
and now have emerged for you to birth here
on a weed-free lawn in Cincinnati,
the only ones watching
are centaured in stars.
For the never-ending,
for the energy that flows through us and around,
turns girls to goddesses poised on a vase.
Always cracked, the lips budding myth.
Always the armfuls of daffodils.
Always they wait for a story or star
to sweep them inside,
to give their lives the mouths of a muse,
a cavern devouring and
always like so they begin
to flow, these rivers
that bear life and broaden minds.
Like insolent children
drinking it in with their games and limbs
faster than wind and wild dogs.
And you and I who clutch stones,
forge new words upon our tongues,
plant ourselves to bear their seeds,
grow and grow all our numbered days.
Shannon Cuthbert is a writer and artist living in Brooklyn. Her poems have appeared in Collidescope, Bluepepper, and Chronogram, among others, and are forthcoming in Muddy River Poetry Review and Glass: A Journal of Poetry.