Stella Reed | 3 poems

From the Amazons’ Epistles
Worthy of Armor to Fleet Foot

I will lie with you in fields
take the planets in my mouth
like diamonds, suck the cold from them,
stand empty inside trees
feel their narrow trunks,
ants circuiting my veins.
I will leave my body

with you, a hollow to be filled
with new sprouts of grass
the white of the roots like teeth
when your hand pulls at the blades.
I have worn my body like a magpie,
ready to beg, to feed, to swallow.
I have worn my body through

many summers, sloughed it off
when faced with autumn, have
shaved my head, streaked my cheeks
with the blood of my menses. 
I will leave my body
with you, the shredded skin
around my thumbnails, slack

pouch of my womb. Be brave
with her—her limbs like arrows
in the soft earth that pierce
three barriers:
wild wild wild

Saint Catherine

As if lightning.

As if the cracking sky lights falling rain.

As if neon flickers against wet pavement

shimmies in puddles,

reflects in the sheen of her shopping cart,

wheels creak and spin.

There are a few dark trees

the scent of diesel.

As tinder would.

As a voice crackles like flame between roof shingles.

Whose tongue is a dead leaf

crunched beneath shoes.

Whose phlegm smears the walkways. 

Whose caul pulled 

from her head at birth reappears—

a crimson cloak from the cut in His side.

As she wears it to be invisible.

As if succubus howl from each corner 

of her cells. 

As if in response she howls back,

covers her ears.

When after the storm. 

When she sinks hands into grass.

When an earthworm is plucked,

twist of His foreskin on her finger.

There are a few taxis

the sound of gutters draining.

In the Embassy of Silence

In the Embassy of Silence, we press index fingers to the lips 
of the newborn, the imprint leaving a gutter for the collection 
of tears and mucus. We teach them to forget, muzzle them with hush; 
weave their ears shut with the floss of their grandmother’s silk. 
They are left in the dark, their faces pressed against screens 
to feel the vibration of voices, their cheeks smell of moth wings 
and lost keys. 

When the wind drifts with pollen the people remember the Embassy 
stands at the edge of a ghost river. Air flows over the dry bed 
and rinses the bones of the dead. Birds perch between ribs and sing 
the forgotten songs. The dead rise, shoulders tattooed with galleons. 
Each square inch of missing skin a crosshatch of bruises. Our tongues 
unfurl in the night pulling taut as ship’s rigging, and the sails 
billow. The wild dogs that roam the arroyos catch the birds and 
capture our songs. We cannot speak, cannot sing. 

The mountains surrounding the village wave their arms during daylight, 
become bathed with blood at sundown and can’t be trusted. They are 
scented with radium. Their waters taste of arsenic.

On the fifth new moon of the year, in order to perpetuate atonement 
and purification, in a calendrical ritual of affliction, the origins 
of which are forgotten, we line the river’s edge. We pass small boats 
of fire hand-to-hand and string the trees with shattered mirrors. As 
one constellation after another rises above our shoulders the silk 
falls from our ears. We can hear the forgotten songs. In a restrictive 
syntax we ask for mercy. We fall on our knees, we fall to our forearms. 
We release our fingers, we release our guttered lips, we release our 
grandmothers’ silks. In fly the dead, the wounded, their missing limbs.

We slip like dreams into your dreams, air under clouds, and rob the 
birds of ozone. One leaves, then another, then another. Then a flock 
rising. In their beaks, our songs. A murmur, a murder, a multitude. 
We forget we are forgiven. On our knees the earth smells of moth 
wings and lost keys. We are forgiven. We forget. Again we forget.

Stella_ReedStella Reed is from Santa Fe, NM. She is the recipient of a grant from the New Mexico Literary Arts Society for the poetry and visual arts project Ordinary Cloth, the Secret Language of Women. Stella is a teacher with the WingSpan Poetry Project bringing poetry classes to residents in shelters in Santa Fe and is a teaching artist for El Otro Lado at the Academy for the Love of Learning. She is a recipient of the Joel Oppenheimer fellowship from New England College where she earned her MFA in poetry. Forthcoming poems will appear in the Bellingham Review and the American Journal of Poetry.

Stella is currently at work on a collaborative manuscript with two other poets — a feminist response to the 2016 election in epistle form from the personas of mythological women.



One thought on “Stella Reed | 3 poems

  1. Thank you for the journey into the center of a tree, beneath the reborn caul of a homeless woman, into the time of crones who lived the womb’s central, pagan power. Your poetry, I think, like the lightning between shingles,
    is evocative as my narrative poetry cannot be.


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