7.04 / April 2012

Two Poems

Your Color is Not Green is Not Gold

We trim late this year, girlhood tree
               of clay stars and dog-bit angels,

wool knotted to sheep and snowmen,
               the skirt an electric train. I’d run

its circuit as a child till sparks licked
               wheels till the toy became

a flame. In your religion, men fast so
               that women may absolve.

In your religion, my shape alone is sin.
               To fast is to starve. To starve

is what I did when you were no longer
               true-chickens drowned

in their stove pots, biscuits crumbled
               under napkins. My jeans

slimmed to leggings. Black dresses
               unraveled to scarves. You held

me as though a bag of groceries, ringed
               each ankle with your palms.

At home this winter, women gather
               and chop dried apricots, braid

cheese loaves, frost bells and reindeer
               in dyed rows. Women brown

apples with spices. Women spell out
               names into dough. I eat

from a red plate, my back to the fire
               in its brick cove. A new year,

and I must let go my resolve to love
               you till my body becomes a fast,

a prayer, a light strand half-flickering
               and trying to decorate your home.

Discovering Phosphorescent Algae Six Months after You’d Gone

How should I describe it for you? On a moonless
night in October we river folks swung a half-drunk
bottle of Maker’s and rushed the Gulf in our
skivvies, our heels thumping cold sand. Would
you believe me: it’s been half a year and still I feel
though you’re behind me I feel you sizing me
down. The waves lipped & pulled. We were as cold
as the whiskey allowed. You must believe me: water
lit at my fingertips and hipbones, at my ankles
& shoulder blades when I kicked & twirled. The sea
was dark but not black. The lights were clear, not
white not green not blue. How can I keep proving
myself to you? No color but the cold had silvered
my skin & lungs. I was home then I was catching
fireflies I was making love with you for the last time
in the dark you were there and then you were gone.
How did my vertebrae burn into stars? There are some
stories that cannot be told. And what does it matter?
Still you would call me impatient, still you’d call me
impossible-you who has made a life tapping out
all my secrets from sand dollars into birds into shards.

Anne Barngrover earned an MFA from Florida State University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as The Florida Review, Smartish Pace, Nimrod and Hayden's Ferry Review, among others. In 2011 she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
7.04 / April 2012