Speaks the Dark Lobe
The dog is no use now that he’s dead.
And here I am without porch light, without moonlight.
Lightless: a kind of diagnosis
The trees speak heavy with night birds.
(In the 8th circle, Dante mistook towers for giants, and secretly bit down on his tongue.
What budded nerve nestles between pleasure and her wrestling mate?)
Understand this is light’s emptied lung.
Alive, the dog would lean on me.
I spritzed scales, spines, gave sips to cottonwood. I gave with the urgency of
“If they live, they live.”
Some days, I want to seem nice, not even kind. As for all the other days, I am alone.
(In the dark lobe of the ancient paradox, white Datura opens to the stars)
Oh, what I would give to be leaned on by anything.
Once I was fired from a job for being “scary”
though they couldn’t provide examples.
I scared generally, without particulars.
(Some spaces just have that feeling a draftiness a tint like a tea stain or
whatever the antonym for afterglow might be)
I met a poet who said that being under a sky bright with stars makes her feel afraid.
Too near. Too right-on-top. Low ceiling abloom with spears.
When I come home at night, it is always by myself—the stars eyeless, freezing and on fire.
They attack, arrow my bare legs, make of me a celestial pincushion.
I can’t say I don’t enjoy it.
It’s true I have to introduce myself to darkness every night, for it forgets me
entirely by the overture of day.
Sometimes an agate disappoints—its core a continuation of its utter rockness.
Or, the lovebird’s egg void but for a springtide shawl of albumen.
Someday I will be in love, unmarried, poor, living my last fertile year behind
a curtain of redwoods, cold rain. I will bake loaves of bread by the dozens
not eat them, place the loaves in an east-facing window, hungry for the smell of yeast.
I will want a baby.
I will scare myself into not, believing the matrix will stay open, leave a light.
(Remember that sitting in the car can be a kind of hug.)
Climbing into cold sheets, pulling quilts to chin, rummage through what disappoints
(agate, egg, lost job, dead dog, wrecked womb.
Croon: the trees do speak, but not to me.)
If I forget myself, let there be a scene of recognition.
Let me tuck myself in and have the feeling I’m doing it just right.
L.I. HENLEY hails from the Mojave Desert. A mixed-media artist, doll maker, and writer, her books include Starshine Road (Perugia Press Prize, 2017) and the desert gothic, Whole Night Through. Her art, poetry, and prose have appeared most recently in Adroit, Brevity, The Diagram, Calyx, Ninth Letter, and The Los Angeles Review. Her personal essays have been awarded the Arts & Letters/Susan Atefat Prize and the Robert and Adele Schiff Award. She is the creator of Paper Dolls & Books. And yes, she talks to her paper dolls and they sometimes talk back. Visit her at www.lihenley.com.
EDWARD LEE is an artist and writer from Ireland. His paintings and photography have been exhibited widely, while his poetry, short stories, and non-fiction have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen and Smiths Knoll. He is currently working on two photography collections: Lying Down With The Dead and There Is A Beauty In Broken Things. He also makes musical noise under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Orson Carroll, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy. Website: https://edwardmlee.wordpress.com.