For My Therapist, After the Diagnosis
I’m writing you these lines to say goodbye
before you forget you ever knew me.
Under the eaves, a house wren trills its cry.
In the morning, it wakes me from those dreams
where you’ve forgotten you ever knew me.
Birds whirl around your room, and then you die.
In the morning, they wake me from those dreams
of needing you to teach me how to fly.
Birds whirl around your room, and then you die,
even though you’ve swept them from the roof beams
out the window. Birds have taught you to fly
through this world, stitched with invisible seams.
Even though you’ve swept me from your roof beams,
I come to ask you where you’ve gone and why
this world is stitched with invisible seams.
You wake, then forget, leaving threads untied.
Once more I ask you where you’ve gone and why.
Under the eaves, a house wren trills a cry
that wakes me from these threads I can’t untie.
Dear friend, I’m here again to say goodbye.
Anthony of Egypt Gives Advice to a Young Hermit
Dark energy may cause a pressure wave
within the rocks that underlie your cave.
Panic, as if outside the body, seeps
like brine. Sideways down walls, it bleeds.
Where brine stagnates, creatures flourish. They bray,
gnashing their theories in this desolate place,
anchoring you with invisible bands.
You eat their words, hypnotized, in a trance.
To dissolve the demons, soften around
all of it, everything–lily, horehound,
sagebrush, stalactite, crag, cliff, pit, and star.
Cleanse the jagged particles of the heart
as scallops cleanse the oceans with the tide.
Clear light will come as the voices subside.
“The Most Strange and True Report of a Monstrous Fish that Appeared in the Form of a Woman”
The rocks will rise one by one from the sea
if you sit for a spell near the cliffs at Pendine
as the tide ebbs with the dipping sun. Dappled
with limpets, cloaked in seaweed, boulders
lounge on sand rippling like fayre white hands
that feather toward you as if to stroke your feet.
And though the water chills the skin, the bones,
you’ll stay rooted in the breakers, wading into surf,
to your shins, your thighs, salt crests slapping
against your rolled up jeans. The waves’
cold sting won’t douse the heat that will smoke
like a driftwood bonfire when one rock lifts
its fayre Haire and fixes you with two jade chips,
visage, neck and shoulders red as coral
turning toward you in the chop, breasts
round and very white, and if you hear, trilling
from another universe, a song, if a tail flashes
like some sequined myth, even still,
you’ll plummet beneath the surge to tip
against the last shimmer of that sweet-lipped fin.
*The title and the italicized phrases are from a letter published in 1603 that is quoted in “Museum Notes,” a 1943 newspaper column by A.L. Leach, F.G.S. Leach describes the account of a 1603 mermaid sighting in Wales, recorded in a drawing and a pamphlet called “Mermaid at Pendine.”
Christine Swint’s poems appear in Calyx, Birmingham Poetry Review, Slant, a Journal of Poetry, Tampa Review,Flycatcher, Southern Women’s Review, Mom Egg Review, Heron Tree, and others. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets. In 2012, she won the Agnes Scott Prize in poetry. Her first poetry collection, Swimming This, was published in 2015 by FutureCycle Press. She lives in metro Atlanta, Georgia with her family and their dogs, Red and Duffy. She writes about poetry, art, hiking, and walking at Balanced on the Edge, athttp://christineswint.com