Karla Kelsey Phoenix Under Water

You’ve insisted even in inner intimate spaces on suit and hat as if
Protecting your many shades of silver against the rituals of air, of me
Of I-as-nude reclined then relishing the petalishness, the coquettishness
Yes, I admit, of silk on skin, silk enjoyed even without you, silk so o-o-o
Because in the end what isn’t abandoned to soft cutting. Because radio

Never had been arbitrary, invective martial-playing in the background
As I-the-protagonist unclench and open to moth, bird, breath flying out
Flying past your gray suited shoulder but how otherwise navigate such
A moment of being interior while outside such scenes so empty we text
In our language to the moon. And so crowded we add, typing into space

With our thumbs as our protagonist stalls and I might as well admit I
Stall too, a tribe of alien deer before the mirror’s oracular yawn pulsing
With now-now-now or when-when-when until we remember ourselves, which
Means arranging and rearranging our hair and therefore with this gesture
I once again singular, human, am aware, very aware, that underneath

The music “you are a void” a voice says, accusing me with the murmur
Of our lost planet. “Or,” the voice says, “you are at best a far-away fort
Fitted out with an inner lake of swans not only white but because crude
Oil, because dimness of the sun, perversely white” and yes, it is true, I
Have joined the recipients, the payees, legatees, that demand as tribute

From the Southern continent the best of its flowers, sending in return
Tax, extortion—let’s call it what it is—and yes, I confess, like all the rest
I order online roses big as our cat’s head, orchids delicate the way coral
Must have been delicate and I feel so generous, so beautiful, so violin as I
Film my white hand placing one of those fat roses next to Bastet’s head

Muttering like the others I grew this in my very own garden which we all know
Is a lie, or I fake an intimacy-of-names with these are from the corner bodega,
Sam’s sourced organic for years. We all of us say such things, pretend we’re pure,
We, that is to say, with the exception of you, truth-imperious head on our
Pillow, Bastet curled at your side. Reclined, you still wear your suit, body

I know, am the only one who knows, never-endlingly silver, you in your
Radio voice pronouncing me “a dry moon slithering across the nation day
In, day out, such a dumb silence.” You avoid allegiance, yet transaction
Nonetheless thickens your voice while we who twist fabric remnants into
Flowers mistake for freedom a barefoot step on sand, give ourselves away.


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