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 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.