Poetry by Lesley Brower

Petition for A Minor Apocalypse

Often, I imagine the county scoured almost entirely of us,
struck by some subjective siege that strips all the human stuff
save for the calcified pump handles of old diesel tanks
and solder-warted handrails leading down
to baptizing holes and any cockeyed tombstone with a date before 1928.

My stomach feels like a place someone tried to smother a fire and I’m just so tired
of looking at it all.

Once, a winged something scraped its body across my teeth
and slammed down the back of my throat and pounded at the wet hallway of my esophagus
like it was my fault.

Sometimes I forget what language I speak until someone begins to sing and my tongue twitches and pitches in all on its own and then I think, Oh. Yeah.
             Yeah
, meteoroids slam melodies from Saturn’s rings, and yeah, zebra finches rehearse
             their canticles while sleeping, and yeah, prehistoric man squatted
             over the corpse of a griffon vulture and carved from a hollow wing
             the first known flute, sent breath into bone and ferried up song into a sky
             similar to this one.

When my neighbor stacked a half-dozen beagle hounds in chicken cages,
they lipped the wiring and recited Ecclesiastes and ululated until the tree limbs snapped.     
I didn’t call the cops--I was afraid someone would burn my house down.
His family was known for things like that.

Think of the hills huddled around a great compost pile of us, how the seraphim could hunch down and dry their wings against the heat of our heap. Holy, holy, holy.

Pardon me while I reassemble my dead,
flip a can of nails into the river, and pretend my grandfather is a wild angel
kicking up shine where rust meets water.

It won’t be long now,
                                  fingers crossed.
Soon, I will gird myself in feathers and ash,
crowned with the bones of a once-voiceless bird
now shaken with song.

My body keeps its own maps
and I know the way home.

The rest of you better get
while the gettin’s good.

 

 

Lesley Brower lives in Southern Illinois, where she works for a local church and teaches English at a community college. Her first book, "Salt Lick Prayer," was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017.