Amee Nassrene Broumand
The Night Cloth
Sangak bakes, bedded on river stones.
Our greyer selves haunt the gaps where floorboards
meet bomb-rumbling walls. Outside, the war
Gorge on poppy seeds, friend.
Wells of midnight nestle in saffron vials, gushing
from the cupboard. Status—
no diatoms spark in this ocean, no alcoves
gleam with squid eyes & gulper jaws.
Cooking isn’t for the squeamish.
Morning. Window spiders collect diamonds,
to ward off life’s decrescence. Outside,
cowboys deface a phoenix, binding her fire-born belly
with featherbone, grasping her girdlestead in a hawk-grip,
until death at the bridle.
When I was three
of a grey woman
who stored bits of people
I never saw her
A low sound, a sound near me in the dark—
a sound like a dying goose.
Perhaps she’s a witch after all.
She keeps watch—a curled worm—whispering,
Where I come from, the living eat the dead, then
The clouds want to storm, but can’t.
Disgruntlement grows, the vex & heat of the murk—
the hex. Townspeople wander the streets
in rising disquiet, unsettled by the perpetual sense
Inside, the kitchen glows with fire.
I have a stick of celery
some rotten carrots
a handful of barley
& no meat.
I fear the sideways pull of my eye,
the creeping call of my stomach.
I know the olive bones
of my skeleton—I can count them.
We’re lost. This trail
leads to a cipher, the circle
of my heart—
Rippling before us, a well of rainwater—
a Brobdingnagian crater in the earth, a mere of night,
a thaumaturgical gash, baleful yet hallowed.
Or is it a hopeful mouth?
The day turns smoky, the sun
as silver as the moon. I seem
to smell sweetbread stew—
She scattered suet
the quail came
she watched inside.
While tearing a quail
with my beak,
I saw her eyes.
Boil & shriek—I start at the kettle’s cry.
The shadow of a child
hovers near the fire,
her source unknown.
wild & onewinged—
spins lopsided within the ravages
of the living room—
shuttered cluttered &
smash the bottles against the wall
to make the buzzing
stop / or go / faster
the tide of the room rises—
sunlight drips from honeycomb,
festering in the corners &
frosted over with red gnats
& the honey sweetens
still, the Hunger
rising bloated & dead
tired / the sun crawls
across a loon bleeding
in the rushes
Let me show you my crown
in the flickering grass / under trees
& porches / floating
over the claw-foot tub / clocks
bite, expecting marrow & getting
a great moon of nothing
Let me open my mouth
floods the hillside & everybody
old dust becomes new
bone & brains & bread
Let me show you my teeth—
in the roar
—the [bleeping] machine—
caged in bone / darts sad-eyed
melting into the afternoon
Today we gather
to remember the bee
—snatched from our sunfields—
by beaks of honey
& stone. Today we fall
into the afternoon
waiting in roselight
for the snowdrifts, the [BLEEEEEEEEEP
ing] avalanche—the birth
of mountains, violet
on the dark shore