BY KIMBERLY GRABOWSKI STRAYER
No ghosts without walls. In every horror
story, a haunted edifice. A house can be a home
or a trap. Gulp of water or skipping record.
In this scene, two teenage girls use witchcraft
to build a boyfriend out of body parts.
I say out loud why didn’t I think of this. They do
everything Frankenstein doesn’t do—teach
their creation to speak, how to touch. He knows
his body is not original, but the girls take the gun
from his hands. Kiss him on the mouth. They all go
to bed together, both dead and alive,
undifferentiated. The resurrection means pushing
oblivion up through the throat by leaning all her
weight on the stomach. I think—this is what love is.
I think—I could watch resurrection all day. I’m tired
of dismemberment. Reassemble the life force,
help it cough up the dirt. Dying here only means
an aesthetic shift—the teen wakes up and says I need
a cigarette. Light me up. Show me the movie
that puts the body back together. I’ve suspended
my disbelief so much, now I believe in anything.
Spell for Clarity
After Marosa di Giorgio
The solution must be to eat
a Petoskey stone. Round from this ice continent.
A slow-carve. The daytime Petoskey stone is dry,
looks brittle, like an ordinary limestone shucked
from the cliff. The daytime Petoskey stone
is my childhood collarbone, broken in a bike
race and grown back bowed. Ordinary breaking.
For this, I need the nocturnal stone—
its many eyes. Colonies of fossilized coral
glittering through the grey. We coat the stones
with lake water to render them vulnerable.
Something found only in Michigan,
can you believe that? When we were little,
the adults told us staying in Superior
for too long, the cold would kill us fast.
Pretty little things. It's too cold there for anything
to survive. And the water is so safe to drink.
We washed our long hair in it, counting down
the minutes to nerve damage. The eye
of the Petoskey stone gazing all
the way down into our inkwells.
In high school, a boy drowned in the lake—
undercurrent wiped him clean. All the news reports
repeated how strong he was, how all his life
he trained for this. Eat the Petoskey stone, quick.
Diamond of bone. Gravity of gray. A boat tour
of the great shipwrecks. For this, the daytime stone
will not do. You need something colder than ice. So
cold it feels like so many final breaths in your hand.
I think—no, don't pay your hard-earned money
for these tours. What kind of wreckage will you see?
What is left there, in the deepest lake? Swallow.
Make of yourself a glass-bottomed boat.
children still want/ some facsimile baby/ tuck it in at night/ tote around by plastic foot or hand/ most of us have soft middles/ puffed cotton where a beating/ could be/ the human part of me/ catches/ at that mechanism/ causes you to look/ for a face/ in the margins/ how the haunting begins/ that hunt for features/ a taking care/ making sense/ humanness and all the trappings/ little replica/ little glass eye/ I just want someone to take/ care of me/ instead get tossed around/ undressed/ set a place for me/ at the table/ stitch a story in my mouth/ in the movie/ play placeholder girl/ who keeps coming back/ every time you throw her away/ I don’t move/ but kill/ I come back/ make you sit upright/ stop blinking/ at the screen/ to see the whole dark/ make the audience/ say why would anyone want that/ creepy dirty doll/ where did she come from/ where is her lock/ why does she keep coming back/ it’s best if you turn out all the lights/ and name me something sweet/ so everything you killed/ for your little girl/ will come back
Kimberly Grabowski Strayer is a poet and horsewoman from Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she received her B.A. in English Writing from Kalamazoo College. She holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from The University of Pittsburgh. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Superstition Review, Midwestern Gothic, Cleaver Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, and others. Her chapbook, Afterward, is available from Dancing Girl Press.