Erika Staiti

from the chapbook BETWEEN THE SEAS (June 2014)

“… and unmade boundaries of acts and poems,
the brilliant scene between the seas, and standing,
this fact and this disease.” — Muriel Rukeyser

I.

a black curtain hangs in folds

behind the stage

animated in relief

curved above the background

figures stand wooden, terrible

you and you and me

here and the others, objects

resting in a cave as once curled

inside the belly of the decoy

Trojan Horse

like a tormented lover waiting

at the edge of the sea forever vigilant

silent now but here or when we depart

vanishing takes on a quality of redress

we leave without you / we take you with us

the dragging of history behind our backs

for we march through the thicket with a saddle of bones

and this, the sidewalk, a sultan scrawled

bashed through the looking glass

there looms a violent revolt of being

sultan on the sidewalk

I greet you on the third day

it is no matter

the body form

form builds around

by you and in the others

a charmed space I conjure the sultan

amidst tree swings

a chair in the wind

and my sultan

rather cloaked petticoat, the box contains you

not a gift, curse, not a piece of parchment, there not a jar

inside to be opened, no plagues, disease, perhaps some hatred

of women, of works, of days

the tree that holds a swing is of course the great tangle

leaves and generations, branches

great Gods and Goddesses

punctuating air

non extant to this day

a struggle to breathe on top of the day another day

you walk along a dirt road lined with shit and sludge

the remnants of your history

you drag them behind you

do not retreat into the chamber of your heart

for your heart is diseased

your pockets stuffed with splendor

rotten core thrown out moving window

bite marks all around it

tumbling through the woods

released with force from your hand

chomping on the last bite

behind the freeway, tumbling, a forest

we find you there

your core