The sun is thin, the air is triage, and you,
you are an acolyte—an adult falcon
inside me, wondering where that screech
came from. Goes to. Feeds. It’s not injury, no
sand on new graves or one-night bout
of grief. When we lost power I called
twice, afraid to forget how
onslaught behaves: lighting brass
votives, brunching by the robin egg
church. Remind me why bruises change
colour while you supervise this hack job
though your last last cross-stitch.
Spin my funeral necklace, just so
it hides the vulgar mechanics, the hook
and eye of death turning tricks.
I heard it. It left a message
in metallic thread on the mirror
that broke in the storm, so I let
my molars rot and made batteries
with the fillings. They feel better, biting
down. The tin foil reminds me
there’s a little bit of enemy
in everyone I love, and this
is updraft, beat by beat, and tailspin.
Nothing umbilical about it.
After all that conditioning, it took four
watches to sprain her wrist, the weight of them
combined with our difference
in age. Covered in silver
and second hands, she burnt
down the theatre, and in that so-called fall
I’m set to be the tilt saying maybe
we already had our moment,_ but I’ll try
to come on cue one more time, splashing
ash, cooing muck and smite and mire.
I don’t know how to act, now, but there
are generations, and we’re a slice
on the timeline that believes
in silicone—medical grade, as an example
of something that could last. After the fire
we’ll still have diamonds and plugs
jutting from the ground like canines.
No matter who we are tonight, we paid for this
texture. Every era craves the salt
rub, a flared base, freckles
on someone else’s back. Personality—a toy
to lessen the blow. Here. Present._
prey, in that predicament
we sought shelter
in an ox carcass,
scraping its walls
for strings of protein.
We did it for warmth,
we said, over handfuls
of cat’s cradle.
And sure, it’s fucking cold
in the ribs, but there
never was a shortage
of heat. We just needed a reason
to rough up our palms, someone
to sniff the needles
after we pissed in the pines,
whistling while we worked.
We were children then,
pre-war and soft-core,
cracking the code
of our shiny one-piece.
That warping favourite.
K.T. Billey recently completed her MFA in Poetry at Columbia University, where she also spent a year as an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow. Originally from rural Alberta, Canada, her poems have appeared in CutBank, The New Orleans Review, Phantom Limb, Ghost Proposal and others. Translations have appeared in Palabras Errantes and are forthcoming in a yet-to-be-named anthology from Columbia University Press. She is an Assistant Editor for Asymptote, poetry curator for Lamprophonic Reading Series, and a Girls Write Now mentor. Say hello at ktbilley.com.