Questions for a Waning Gibbous
What was the first word ever spoken? Can darkness comprehend light? What voices come out of the wilderness? Do we ever stop searching for buried treasure? Would you rather be a hawk or a magpie?
Was dancing invented to keep us from breaking? And singing to make us love rain? What music has pierced you to the root? What art has bathed your veins in liquor? Where would your holy pilgrimage take you?
Will spring be absolved of provoking unrest? Will hyacinths grow in this stony rubbish? Do you, like Tiresias, throb between two lives? Can we move through thunder into peace?
Did you forget we can ripen in any season? And eyelashes can be wet just from rain? Is spring light through honey? Or just light? Or just the sound of lungs waking and remembering air?
*Note: The first three sections adapt text from The Book of John 1:1-1:23, The Canterbury Tales Prologue, and The Waste Land.
Fragments of a Shredded Screenplay
EXT. DESERT – DAY
blood orange, frenzy yellow
a burn of dust
rising in a swarm,
nose and eyes invaded,
a scene defined
by dreaming of rivers.
INT. RIVER – MEANING INSIDE YOU
wavering watery sweet
in its chill, in mouth,
in lungs that belong
to the current now,
music to drown by,
a rush defined
by dreaming of warmth.
As a child I blew dandelions
. into my mother’s garden.
I lay in the grass to watch
. as the sky turned colors, learned
stratus, cirrus, cumulonimbus.
. Grounded, afraid light
in the clouds was as close
. as I could get
to aurora borealis of prism-cold north
. where everything to lie on
tastes like ice & the gods
. disguise themselves as polar bears.
But I was allergic
. to grass, broke
into dots that itched like ant bites
. & Mom took pictures of my knees.
Accomplice to the heat
. in our little house,
I kept escaping into the yard.
. I drew the sky
when it was white, it was hard
. to tell the edges.
I ate the pansies in the garden:
. I knew they were non-toxic
like Crayolas. Mom thought it was a rabbit
. but it wasn’t.
The week I discovered
. the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I stayed inside every day to watch
. & Mom bought me a milkshake
to sip—vanilla cloud through a straw—
. for being good.
We licked the juices off our fingers
. when we picked blackberries.
As we brambled, she lied
. about giving head on a cruise ship,
about the boy’s father walking in & saying
. good job son. She said
it’s like sucking on a lollipop
. or a thumb.
But in high school we mistook each other’s words
. half on purpose, got in fights.
She heard me say her tube top
. was ugly. I heard her say hell
is where Christians go.
. But I knew something was true
when she didn’t want it leaked.
. She kept quiet when she stopped eating,
. Ash stains on her clothes
she said were from leaning on a tree.
. At lunch we formed a clot of twelve girls
each trying to bring the best
. homemade brownies & tips
for frizzy hair.
. If one broke an ankle, another dyed her hair
. We didn’t know many boys
whose attention was worth getting.
. She kept a mental list of our friends
in order of attractiveness
. & ranked herself last.
Walking home from school,
. she told me (in confidence)
she could only be attracted to a girl
. if she knew her well, if
she trusted her. I thought
. she may have meant
Gina from science class. I thought
. she may have meant me.
Jessica Beyer is a writer and educator from Baltimore, MD. Her poems have been published in The Adroit Journal, decomP, TIMBER, Split Rock Review, and other journals and anthologies. She has a MFA in Poetry from New York University and a BA in English and Creative Writing from Emory University. She is looking for a publisher for her first poetry collection Questions for a Damaged Goddess and working on a second collection and a novel.
When not writing or working, Jessica can be found waterskiing, SCUBA diving, and giving in to wanderlust whenever possible. She most recently traveled to New Zealand, Australia, and Thailand, and is now one (Antarctica) away from getting continent bingo.
You can find her at jessicabeyer.com and on Twitter @JessicaHBeyer.