p o e t r y
Lilith as my indignant self-possession
“The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.” – Isaiah 34:14
The advice is to confront your demons, befriend
your demons – but you are the only demon
you know, and you pass the time fucking
angels. That’s what they tell you: how holy
and pure their hearts, how well-intentioned.
Let them try to churn your bile into gold—
you are the blended whole
you are regrettable decisions
like letting them pay for your dinner
or letting him be the big spoon
to your ten-inch serrated knife
after he cut his tongue on your thighs.
You only do this because you can –
because they pluck your feathers, want
to goad you into snapping at their skin.
They hope your beak will leave one mark
closer to their martyrdom.
Over time the casual bumps in the night
become smeared with demands—
you must change pieces of your infernal
body [the same body they made a party
to their sins] to fit their glossy, silent image
of heaven. Your curse is not the one
they were expecting; your wings are mercury.
The house you inhabit in dreams is always you
and in every other dream of mine there’s a ladder hidden in the garden, and I follow it up the side of this two-storey house where a door opens on a third-floor drawing room. Whenever I enter this room I am surprised by the open space: it has potential. It is empty of visitors but lined floor to ceiling, wall to wall with books, curios, paintings of the dead. The chairs seem oversized from the doorway, like the climb up has left me six inches tall, but when I move closer, I’ve grown. In this room I am always alone, and dust filters through curtain gaps and I can hear voices downstairs – my husband, my mother, my childhood best friend, my ex-lover’s ex-lover, people who have never met and never will, talking about the weather like they’re underwater and the sun is shining blue. In the sage green armchair under a portrait of Lady Godiva, I take off my boots, stretch, pull an obsidian disc from my mouth. I throw it to the heat of the hearth, where it feels most at home. The spark of stone on stone reminds me of love, as the dark of descending sleep comes for the dust, it comes for the books, the weather, and the voices, and me.
Twenty feet under and six hundred years
(at Exeter Underground Passages)
With footsteps squeezed by rough-hewn stone as old as Chaucer
resonant with blood and breaths, popping claustrophobic
bubbles between the fairy lights leading you nowhere—
in your mind a swirl of starlings ripples across the pewter sky
like a banner reading ‘congratulations: the end’ as they rise
from a field in Somerset, taking with them your memories
of Devon dust / mud on your boots / a t-shirt that smells
like one yesterday’s would-be silence, filled with stories he
felt he had to tell / ten minutes’ worth of Bristol pavements.
You must close your eyes against the pressure of tunnels
and the constant rush of time, but all you see beneath your lids
is the pyrography of decades marking his face impassable.
Kate Garrett is the founding editor of Three Drops from a Cauldron, Picaroon Poetry, and Bonnie's Crew, and a contributing writer for Pussy Magic and Rhythm & Bones. She is the author of several chapbooks, most recently Land and Sea and Turning (CWP Collective Press, 2018), and her first full-length collection, The saint of milk and flames (Rhythm & Bones Press), and a small chapbook, To Feed My Woodland Bones [A changeling's tale](Animal Heart Press) are forthcoming in Spring and Autumn 2019. Born in rural southern Ohio, Kate moved to the UK in 1999, where she still lives in Sheffield with her husband, five children, and a sleepy cat. Twitter: @mskateybelle / www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk