The farmer tilts his Monsanto cap back from the bronze horizon of his forehead, stabs a finger to Formica with enough force to rattle silverware, and swears to God—and those of us in the café— that he most assuredly has found a writhing bowfin buried in the black soil of his north forty some weeks after April’s flood has drained from this lower field.
. . .
Tonight, dreams fan alluvial—I inhale lithified sediment, chambers fat with artifact:
a hailstorm of fisted stone,
Prince Albert tobacco tins,
spent shotgun shells,
pull-tab Schlitz cans,
a cracked telephone insulator,
the cobalt-stepped sundown,
antlers, branched and broken.
To breathe this tannin-stained leaf litter—
an arboretum sewn into my tongue.
The deluge recedes.
I drift back to the surface of consciousness.
Staring through the fallow dark,
the images now dormant—
I entomb myself deep in blankets, trying to recall the last time we made love.
grant me strength to cede you,
to enunciate strictures of clubbed apology
long lodged within my heart.
my spine pulp; jawbone heavy,
shedding mossed teeth into carpets
of mushrooming grief.
a reservoir spread over my banks
sable as any raven’s breast—
this levy delinquent years before we met.
how many pounds of flesh did i excise
before ripping along the suture we’d sewn
something in me metastasized—fed
this pleurisy, resuscitates pain.
stooped and coughing awful blood,
i now grovel through combs of faithless rain—
forever seeking you in metaphor.
a finch fluttered about the kitchen,
and as I cupped her between palms
she quivered, a heart in arrhythmia;
my bathroom mirror shattered against tile
at two a.m., shards as brilliant in moon burn
as the wings of a million nightmare moths;
I placed an acorn in my window sill,
but the pane was already fissured like sky
under a vast and approaching storm;
Shadows haunt the verge of my lawn,
and deep into the night I hear frogs calling
to other frogs—the mimicry of owls.
Decisions float on beds of glacial regret;
And at my back, blue hills rise like mist upon
themselves. I step from these convulsions
and cold, green waters arrest my breath.
But I’m suddenly knee deep and thirsty,
striding to the surge.
Gina Marie Bernard is a heavily tattooed transgender woman, retired roller derby vixen, and full-time high school English teacher. She lives in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her daughters, Maddie and Parker, own her heart. Her chapbook Naked, Getting Nuder was a finalist in the 2018-2019 Glass Chapbook series, and is under contract with Clare Songbirds Press. Her work has recently appeared in r.kv.r.y quarterly, The Hunger, Spider Mirror, and Waccamaw Journal. She has work forthcoming in Anomaly, Lavender Review, Riggwelter, and The Real Story.