“ A Flower Between Two Streams”
She is moving the salt bath into the shade.
She is scraping the fatted flesh from the skin.
She is dipping her hands into the float.
She is braided, muted, peeling.
She is Amonute, Matoaka, Rebecca.
She is an old wives’ tale.
She is a skein, a go-between, a folded moon.
She is a splint of cerulean between men.
She is woven and spread on a table.
She is a spar held under the tongue.
She is a treatise, a snake-winding stick in dirt.
She is drumming the rain.
She is tanning a seed.
She is a thousand creases between seasons.
She is crossed and claimed.
She is a chair at a table, worth a copper kettle.
She is spilled gunpowder that cannot spark.
She is given the depth of a pot of rain against sky.
She is a damp dance inside a flame.
She is ghosted, written-in.
She is sacred, voiceless as dirt
Dwell Time at the New Museum of Human Rights
They serve Kava tea in bone china,
offer souvenir soccer balls sewed
by sweet little hands.
In each room, the air is siphoned enough
to swallow speech
so silence is not imposed,
upon each chest with a gasping weight.
A bell rings for every woman and child enslaved,
there is a constant carol, nostalgic as a holiday,
and rows of psychics
read passing thoughts but when asked to divine
a future, come up blank.
Sponsors hand out poorly written pamphlets
for bomb shelters, prozac,
and discounts from the NRA.
We must arm ourselves, they urge, in the room
of mass graves,
where puffs of tropical Fabreze lift the air.
In the suffrage suite, there are la-z-boys
and big screen tv’s
playing reality shows on a loop—dwell time
here has doubled.
But the padded halls of ego
echo-empty. There are gold mirrors fixed into place.
Narcissus sits in the corner with a monk
and stares as I offer my breast
to a lost and hungry child.
Together they chant om mani padme hum
and make prayer wheels
by brushing each hand that waves them away.
Few know how he really died—mourning the loss
of his mirror—a twin.
How, gazing into that pool, he wanted only
to hold a glimpse of her eyes,
and was surprised when he saw
He did not dive, but slipped, when he went
to wipe her tears,
not realizing they were his own.
History keeps getting it wrong, he complains,
We are all just a reflection of each other,
there is no shame in loving that.
Megan Merchant is mostly forthcoming. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press, 2016 Book of the Year), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Prize, Glass Lyre Press, forthcoming 2017), four chapbooks, and a children’s book with Philomel Books. You can find her work at meganmerchant.wix.com/poet.
Cover photo: Vinita Agrawal