Eight Poems
Caroline Whitbeck


The living will congregate. Thing is.

The living will cup their hands or wring them. Animal, vegetable, mineral, vessel,
pick one.

The living will do this thing with water. To weather an arrest or
a new name.

The living will debate the disobedient. The homonyms holy and wholly.

The living will run cover headlines ENOUGH. Really? They will

talk about love. Where on the face does the soul

The living will wait for the updates. Help me, nurse, to change
this bed I never knew I could.

I will tell their friends, the living, "No, not yet." The definition of echolocation:
I am here, you are here, ocean.

Stay Warm

Finger the seams, cathexis

of readiness and need, the knot in the unseen harness. Bundled, a house he won't shrug on.
Those thresholds cordoning off requitement.

I nick it a little.

The storied well, the room I am always in. This inevitable his grafted red has ceased to
hold. A hand in the boiling pot, it

lifts. After one silence smaller,

the little hiccup, the soughing door. All hooks uprooted. Such dreams carry
the incendiary animals, transit. I would give anything for that

scorched laughter.

Because we had torched the library, I mean. Our mouthblack summaries, the weird weather of
our kindness, the newly stripped wind: I

don't like it either. Keep on, new coat. You too.

Sex, Envy, Proximity

Readiness in the clan. To cross the grass on wet stockings.
The blade freighted with sugar, ablation. The bridal
bite. Long dun column through an upstairs room.

Younger sister at the portal. What is touching now.
Applause of the wash. To hide, the netted candy hot in hand.
To watch, the machine. Bladders of milk folded in.

They're All Out of Storm Names

Because he'd been cleaning the gun, she brought a leash to school. Because
it was attached to nothing, like accident.

At the cubbies, she unfurled to show me, and I
licked her palm. You know, she said. You have one too.

What did I know? I'd learned to let another girl
tie my shoes for me, sure. What else is there, my parents asked.

At home, the bitch writhed as she
buried her hands in. I'll bet you're hungry, she said to the teeth.

4 from Inheritance
1. Gravid, Her Mother

Earlier, ever earlier

her mother, who knows what she carries.

Her mother's friends, their flowers, their
chafing dishes. And worry. A blister-pack of pills.
What such talk does over spoonfuls of
coffee whitener. What condolence becomes
beyond the ear of the eaves.

Was it not his? What did he

know? Was it true he'd tried to
swaddle his head in her old

nightgown before, that is,

(trigger with the finger).

Under the hairdryer's helmet,
their ruminant, that communal
consciousness, the consensus is.
Her doleful shoals. Her money, her cloister,
her narrow window through which. His necessary.

Months now, local children set a bounty on touching
the car wherein.

That she might be watching. Their giddy

scatter. Impossible
laughter, dusting away.

None suspect her own laughter Was it



2. Gravid

Feel that.

He was she was.

Tender as worms in and

blind. I know. Ruin. Run a fork tine
along the veins in hand the waiting.
Little blue thrum.
Is there what isn't what won't fit anymore the keeping. My silk
pouch swaddled in my sleeping things sachet my
irreducible my oyster.
Comb on the nightstand anymore.
His smell is in it his hair still what won't
lift from the driverside and still I won't sell. The brilliantined
attorneys. The pen lifted leaking my eye
on the nib its
wicked split ennunciating done. Who drives.
Now order is in everything.

To tip and leave I
lock up after and inhabit. Unplate
what is brought inevitable eat eaten. What is
expected. Grows.
Even as I run the knife along upkeep
is so purposed she. Will come.
Swallow to swallow. His rigged
fit has seen to his other trigger his after.
To bring back the man
dragging through her on her my own sown making my own
story my surplus.
Like salt through water stirs. Through. My bodied waiting. Sit
now. What this
is and is for anyone under the light of it
why fight. What we
know due tuck in say swallow.
This lungful. Is said
of this. Lift the receiver from the cradle.

Mum. I am. Hello. The sudden the
night runs naked through.

Rutting toddler.

3. Homecoming, Her Father

So it begins, her

father, mother.

What it

takes. You can


4. Homecoming

Lady your mantle wordlessly
your years now. Buttons thumbed
through their slits.
Sullen combed.
My handle was familiar I wore
the smell of your sleep its deep pond
primitive the imperatives
from your prayers their lace their lifted lid. Parole.

lock of home leaving is what we do
we know daily. But to wife
to live as. Doublebent as a snail.
I rub and rub and yet the red

in the chamberpot's waters I rinse diligent.

Mornings you manage your seething
remedy. My comfort
the cold coffee colder clocks.
That the wallpaper curls.

A dailiness I decide. What I decide.

I have walked again to the sink but

My black drive
idles just outside the hedgerow prim
as your sex.
What I will do.

I will make you a promise.