a new mouth.
the girls were swinging their axes
at too many things. they coughed, bared
their shoulders to one another, to the boys
up in the cherry-picker, hacking down limbs.
they parted the dust clouds with their spindlings.
they needed a shelter for their fumblings
they said, calling up into the canopy.
from above the men sent arms down.
they built a window and another window
and a door. outside the girls were faces.
they came inside and stayed the night,
rustling in their soft underthings.
the men and the boys stayed up, racked
cabinets for scraps of hardware. made woods
into walls, smoothed the carved hearts
with a planer. the girls woke up running
pale fingers through their own hair. boy
were they loud. i listened to their whistlings
from the treehouse you built me, high up
on a similar hill. we called out
for similar things: more water,
a new mouth to feed.
not asia, exactly.
the country i’ve constructed for you
is balmy and pale on film.
the woman on the balcony
has a dark heart & small shoulders.
she wears a shift of her own devising
and spreads everything so thin.
the several hundred marks on my face
arrange themselves in messages.
the air is a stupid pastel
you smear yourself into over & over.
the woman on the film
is shaping your dark heart into itself.
from here every different color
is a cause for alarm.
the several hundred messages
make themselves known to me, as mine.
they make a terrible funnel
to pour one of us into the other.
my skin pales and balms
when i have to remember you up-close:
a face of my own devising.
a thin shift in the new weird light.
i left the forest and came to a marketplace.
it was bustling there, like a girl scout
camp, or hive. i had a few things
scattered about, here and there, on a quilt.
mostly they were invisible
findings, and didn’t fetch their value.
the people too, were invisible
to one another. there was a parade
they lost themselves amongst.
later i found out it wasn’t a marketplace
really — more like a showroom.
gigantic women passed me by
peering. whole families broke me apart.
i hunched over my gleanings,
which were only four colors thick
by then. they became unfamiliar to me.
i burned them in my learned fires, waking
to a magic quantifying in my organs.
i felt my feet growing their arches. i felt
like a cough growing smaller inside my mouth.
kelly schirmann lives it, climbs it, drinks it, wants it, gets it, falls all over it, and gives it away for free in portland oregon.