(cold light)

by emily wilson


(cold light)

I. For a man who has taken off his,
you are       very interested       in mine.
                                                               The ring of my grandmother,              
its turquoise eye to which you pressed lips, slipped          off at the shore,                                                                                                                              lidded
                                                                                                            with a braid                                                                                                            of sterling silver.
Your first experience with divinity occurred when you broke into your grandfather’s office, stole Hebrew scrolls which read for those who are
not dancing.              

II.                                                                                I want to define your body
                                           by its synonyms:       rip tide      civil twilight;
                        present mine in return:
milk teeth                             sugar sore. What have we learned of intimacy?        
I know
to free a firefly
from a web, one must
rotate counterclockwise. Atlantic pier Ferris wheels and a floodlit dusk:          suspended                         
                    spokes, each bulb a body ensnared. Latin for you are being                         carried. You are  


I.                                                                              August is a clever alchemist
                                                          ,forced to     amputate its      own foliage.
When I tell you I fear
blindness                                                        ,I mean I fear my body
its ability
to reflect light.
                          I mean soon we will have to pay for satiating the wingspan
                                                                                                         of our hunger.

II. We make rituals                                                                        
of night.         I press         the blistered                                                          
                                                                             white of your palm. Love
,you whisper                                                                                                 ,don't
                                                                                                                       drain                                                                                                                       the storm

                                                                                                    from my skin.
Teeth to jaw and I ask       ,Please      ,when the mapmakers find my bones
let them resemble a constellation.                      


I.                                                                Offstage you practice photography: 
                                      insects itching         around golden       tickseeds.
Blooms with no
pollen promise.   
a hollow
                              hunger cause such swelling? You pixelate these images,
                 project them on stage. Everything in still frame dehydrates.

II. Long exposure of firefly flight,
you believe,       will reveal       fluorescent letters,
                                                               language in luminescence.
All I see:                                                                                                       gilded
                                                                                                              in splinters.
                                                                                         Silence. Shutter speed.
We are all guilty of imperfect attempts to mirror stars; grant the lightning bugs a private failure. To be ashamed of the color of this thirst.             


I. Rotation is a ritual
          in forgiveness.       When we       make love
                                                                        ,I pretend my body
is the concrete beneath                                                                         dancing
                                                                                           and shadow-slapped. 
                                                                 You lay the last syllable of my name
                                            underwater and teach it to float.

II.                                                                                 September seeps brilliant
                                                            and bored       into our        hotel room.
                              Bronze as the inked
airplane                                     drifting over the wrist  
hand. We use the same devices to record music
                  as we do the messages of our dead. I worry this does not                             frighten you.


I. When the wind hibernates
in caves           of crisp             and chill
                                                               ,your circuit is over.
Tread worn down on tour bus tires, the constant spinning           of vowels
                                                                                                              on asphalt.
                                                                                                          Your whisper
                                                                                      webs my skin in shivers. 
A valve is a vow in pressure. I've found the octave
at which your name becomes a spell.

II.                                                                                   My last words to you are
                                    in a dying           language of short           wave lengths
                                ,saturating the film of your frame
in silver                    nitrates. My abdomen bloats in              bioluminescent loneliness.
the ring
back into its orbit near your knuckle                          ,elliptical and eclipsed.


Emily reads "(cold light)"

Emily Wilson is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at the University of North Carolina Wilmington as a graduate teaching assistant. Her poetry, translations, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Asymptote, Bustle, Green Mountains Review, PANK, Passages North, and The Raleigh Review, among others. Nominated for inclusion in the Best New Poets series and for an AWP Intro Journals Award, she received the 2013-2014 Kert Green fellowship, was first runner-up in the 2014 Indiana Review Poetry Prize, and won the 2012 Emma Howell Memorial Poetry Prize. Follow her @Emmy_Golightly.