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Beth Gordon

Sprouting Grass & Fish & Egg

There are un-resuscitated children waiting to glide into sweet crocodile lives where they will swallow catfish and frog colonies, float in happy swamps, digest heron spines and beaks, the mysterious source of their terminal malfunction soon forgotten, like quarantined medical scraps: follow the trail of ash, of fossil to this moment in the story. I was

thinking of Charles today, bone-mending

friend to my daughter, of Danielle’s purple shoes, her laugh so loud that its endless howl remains, Adrienne I was thinking of you, of your trampoline heart, of the caged hamsters and snakes my children loved and lost, of my living grandchildren, their tadpole skin, of their sister’s hand pressed into rock, sweet lives returning to the journey’s source.


Silver-haired translator of reptile songs,
of hearts beating inside flesh that requires
a light source to continue the journey,
I have sucked bruised-plum marrow from bone, raged
to crimson butterflies that I am not
afraid of death’s remains, my fingers dipped
in sweet brown ink and placed, like a feather,
on a train’s metal canvas, so I can
re-create their faces while you remove
your shoes, listen to tree bones in the fire.


The pink phlox found their moon tonight, sprouting moon, moon to startle hibernating frogs and in that glow I see the living, the way they beckon me, my children with their cigarettes, defying death with every breath, howling at ash, their hearts etched with each hard step of the journey, like fossils caged inside ribs, painting the faces of daughters and sons, nieces and

nephews with crocodile ink so the reaper passes close

but does not blink. My mother’s father spent his final days stalking oxygen, he was the first to go, then my father’s mother, her sharp heron smile, my hopes evaporated like a vampire child in sunlight, my mother’s mother still remains like purple- plum flower dust in a rusted soap can beneath my bed with boxes of color.


Crimson and sweet brown, reptile white, catfish
gray, she gathered her bones and walked away
singing resurrection hymns, these sweet deaths,
crocheted escapes that left me wilder than
a train, frog songs in my ears, my father’s
father, last to go at 96 years,
no need to explain, his life a pure love
story, grass moon, egg moon, howl to the dead
and light our way, small petals at our feet.

Elegy with Frankenstein

When I say murder, I mean the way slugs
are drenched with salt so hostas and tulips
can bloom, I mean the way your brother dreams
your final face, folded into sofa
cushions for 13 hours until someone
turned you over, I mean purple and red
as metaphor for livor mortis, the way
you slapped me when you were eight so I’d save
you from monsters but all I could see was
your sharp handprint on my cheek, I mean green
beans spit from your laughing mouth. When I say
laughing mouth, I mean tears pooling beneath
my sea-otter heart, I mean abalones
on my belly, I mean clean needles as
a metaphor for love, all your tattoos
bleeding ink and pus because you wanted
to paint over every mistake, I mean
the way you stole vodka from my freezer
and I never said a word, I mean your
scattered parts stitched together with chewing
gum and twine and the lyrics of Let it Be.

➥ Bio