Ecclesiastes: New Madrid Fault
by Marissa Davis
patience. I am hardly
parted lips. still your beating
wings. I am hardly
a god that is mostly
a maw made
to sing. made to break
like a runaway. clap
like a vulture’s heart.
you believe me because you’ve dreamed it
like a vision; let it sweat you
awake, scissor-clip the sweet
off night: your near-private
apocalypse. your homeland
errant. little bee sting
on a planet’s hulk. single chord
to an orchestral catastrophe.
last time, I knotted river up
& snipped her like slim ribbon.
I worried moonwane
into a dark map to anoint Tecumseh.
I witched the silt to boil, crushed
quartz down to shallow lightning, crowned
myself an emergence in reverse. a widened
challenge. make a baptist
of gravity. crack stone
like an ice sheet. waft the occult
perfume of groundwater.
wring the fields to warp & fissure.
gape to a gospel
of earth as a verbose blade an ambiguous mallet.
calyx for a cicatrix, I’d eat you with a mouth
of scar tissue. my breath a low candle
for land’s unforgetting. isn’t remembering
a life’s most essential art. thick trouble
& a yolk for grief. & some hard
illumination. I recollect every force
that ripples through me. I know where it goes
& what fine thing builds from it.
I know exactly how knowing
is a woe how knowing makes me
unconquerable, a cavernous shout.
sumptuous, to be a certainty
just past the limits of certainty.
no, you will not
escape. best just to roll
the flickering bones. best not
to sleep. o flesh
of my flesh: I promise,
can be so
of my coming
as a sign
or a terrible chance.
Marissa Davis is a poet and translator from Paducah, Kentucky, now residing in Brooklyn. Her poetry has appeared or will soon appear in Poem-A-Day, Great River Review, Symposeum, Rattle, West Branch, Mississippi Review, Best New Poets, and Poetry, among others. Her translations are published or forthcoming in Massachusetts Review, New England Review, Mid-American Review, The Common, Rhino, American Chordata, and The Offing. Her chapbook, My Name & Other Languages I Am Learning How to Speak (Jai-Alai Books, 2020) was selected by Danez Smith for Cave Canem’s 2019 Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady Prize. Davis holds an MFA from New York University. Her website is marissa-davis.com.