The Audacity of Want
by Mónica Gomery
they’re right, i had a lot of nerve.
it’s not my fault god made the world so
drenched, so possible. every sprawling blade
of grass, a nerve ending on my body.
and that red skull dangling
like a key on a branch.
i wanted all of it and more.
three sets of lungs and all the air to drown
my boredom for one hundred years. and more.
a hive of eyes, the glowing viscera inside of every
green and sprouting thing. i wanted access
to that megaphone, to know what the maggots
say, the mollusk and the albatross. to feel
what the horned antelope feels, to walk on crowns
for hooves, to rule the plains with clomping
and with confidence. i wanted sky and the sky
of the sky, sea and the mucus of the sea.
and its cartilage. and its saliva. to hear my maker’s
voice directly, not through the stammering organ
of my only possible lover.
i stood shivering in that garden prison that smelled
of burning river, tasted like heavy summer
my mouth turned over words i didn’t even know.
my mouth said beauty–– what word is that?
what is unclothed when you are daughter
to the walnut and the walnut shell?
what is naked, if not unseparate, and blessed?
i only knew that i contained the whole bright galaxy
and i would have to strap my life to it, and pull.
later, they told me it was destructive.
that wanting the wind as a lover, and the moon
as a lover, was a problem. and the legions of three-
and four-legged creatures as my chorus
and platoon. they said it was too much.
if i’d only kept my hands inside the vehicle.
but i saw the apple and the only word i knew was world
the only border between me and it, my mouth.
and i knew my mouth was porous.
no snake lured me there.
i wanted every worm that garden had to offer
and i deserved it. every star rotting off
the trunk of every honest locust, silent ash.
even the barbed fruits, even the fruits that scream
when you touch their doorbell with your tongue.
beauty catastrophizes and it blisters, barely
surviveable. pain too, i learned, is my bright world.
o, press everything against my teeth!
i mothered all of you.
nude at the edge of the ocean
at the base of the tree, at the gate
of the orchard. hanging from a thread
of my own hair. at the boundary
of the galaxy. saying more.
Mónica Gomery is a poet and rabbi living on unceded Lenni Lenape land in Philadelphia. Her second book, Might Kindred, won the Prairie Schooner Raz-Shumaker Book Prize, and is forthcoming in November 2022. She is the author of Here is the Night and the Night on the Road (Cooper Dillon Books, 2018), and the chapbook Of Darkness and Tumbling (YesYes Books, 2017). She has been a nominee for Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net, and is a graduate of the 2022 Tin House Winter Workshop. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Poetry Foundation’s Poem of The Day, Waxwing, Black Warrior Review, and Adroit Journal. Read more at www.monicagomerywriting.com.