The mountain has the skin of a snake,
blue and green and glowing,
flowing downwards, grasping what
or who she’s caught in her breath
until she sheds and runs at the sea.
The ladder is a phantasm, ivory steps
you sketch in a trice on paper.
But you are there and so you must feign:
rosy rivets, arches, shafts,
gems; tourmaline and toffee agate.
The posted signs sigh, no hooks, crutches,
ride your white horse, rings on your toes
with cowbells on your cold, cold fingers
to the cross of the land
where whirlwinds keep the rattling gates.
How the lift goes up and down
touching between howling floors:
lingerie, double boilers, lad lit, chick lit
paradise flowers, cream curtains
madam inviting your little ringed fingers.
Oh but the horse steps up the amber stair
for she is your sister
the horse of the see-through stairs,
the jingling bridle in the naked hand.
And you? Her constant sister of invention.
The war raged on. Then there you were.
I showed you what I’d found, the roofless
blacks, powers of greys, retirements of blue,
the walk of high walls, towers,
what was left – ashy, fire-sooted yellows,
scarlets hunched in shadows,
mansions behind whose blind eyelids
a society of women, their hands holding
opened, singed books, alarmed you,
caressed you in your red arrival
your irritable horse, your magic helmet,
asked you to stop talking, listen.
[Both poems appear in Sister Invention, Smokestack Books, 2014.]
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