Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick
FRANCINE FEEDS FIGS TO SEALS IN THE SEA OF MERCY
Francine hurts herself and tastes figs. I believe in consequences, she writes, in the blossoms of my body. Francine wakes chewing her arm. I have an understandable desire to eat sunshine. Imagine a landslide of seals in the Sea of Mercy, she writes, St. Gabriel is a door. I opened my body to his responses. Francine hurts herself. There are consequences.
FRANCINE GARDENS WHEN ANXIOUS
Francine knows the difference between wheat and the lasting. The backgarden's overgrown, she writes, never a shadow in the hedge. Francine learns she still loves him in many different tongues. She plants rows of figs to let in light. She writes, though mercy I cannot capture. Never a shadow in the hedge. Francine listens to stars when he comes dragging a captured bed. Francine knows the difference between difficulties and regret.
FRANCINE ONCE DREAMED OF BEING A SWORD SWALLOWER
Francine stones honey when she's alone, then calls Saint Gabriel. My arms were called a gate, she writes, but no one stepped through. Someday the way to mercy will be by the sea. I learn to tongue regret by being everything. Francine believes her heart will drink his honey water. Figs become the burning of swallowed stone, his body a light for the dead on her mattress. I love everything attached to my hair, she writes, though my heart's stuck in his branches.
FROM: —REMEMBERING THE DREAM YOU HAD ABOUT ME
I am ashamed to cry or sing or pray,
even in a corner in my house,
even in the spare room in my ribs,
even in the dark of my eyelid.
But I'll fall down again,
into a scattering.
And in this desert, I take branches into my mouth, rake the length of my back against brush.
Into a scattering, a bit of bone, hide.
And in this desert, the heat-body inside my body rises, talks gibberish, until my lips are parched.
Into a scattering I howl, break flocks in the sky.
Darkness hides in the hide of my thigh when the stirrings still.
I have laid my palms on the side and watched the prints lift, ghost-like, from the bed.
I have crawled, though no trail has been pressed.
Turn the doorknob until the neck breaks.
FROM: HUMMINGBIRD MIND, SESSION ONE:
Strange. I need a Geologist.
Rummage through an index. Find myself on a map.
Why are you thinking about maps?
When I drew blood, the first thought was feet
on earth; the next, power, then pleasure.
There are tiny cities on the skin. I always thought this:
What lies trapped. Cut it open.
Without knowing it. I'll chew my hand,
leave the office. As though someone loved me
and I never knew. My mouth.
At the root of everything there's violence.
Like drilling for oil.
Tenderness wants to tear me up.
The truth of love.
What do you think replaced the cutting?
Oh, it still hangs near the doorframe
while I'm lying in bed or taking a bath.