how the quiver of the camera makes it all seem so mine—my body flying over the bonnie green fields of the isle. my body sitting in the sodden rowboat of the old ferryman, the folds of his salty skin purling as he gabs on about last year’s failed crop. my body is a foot-soldier for god. a missionary with a magnifying glass. not to be duped by the chocolate bunnies in the sweetshop windows, their candied buttons. not to be seduced by the innkeeper’s shapely daughter, her rapping on the shared wall at lights-out.
my body knows when things are amiss. when my body asks the graying drunks at the bar if they recognize the girl in the photograph, their eyes go too blank, too still. like a hare in a trap, hoaxing death. the freckle-faced kids in the schoolhouse bust out big grins as if there isn’t an empty desk in the back.
small horrors collect as beads of sweat on my body’s stiff lip. a beetle tethered to a rusty nail dances round & round as the village boys sing-song about transmutation. figures in nightgowns billow & thrust in the moors. the innkeeper’s daughter straddles the sapling sprouting from a fresh grave mound. is the churchyard still a churchyard without a church? my body starts to wonder. my body makes a cross from an empty apple crate, walks over to the mound & demands the gravedigger redo his handiwork.
a dead tree is a dead girl is a dead hare is a dead tree. my body watches the gravedigger unroot the sapling & open the casket to find two long ears wrapped in ribbon. the village refuses to answer questions & drops more game at my body’s feet. the sweetshop owner stuffs gumballs down her daughter’s throat as she paints watercolors of hares. the mortician’s secretary pulls her keys from her purse by one furry little foot. the millionaire at the top of the hill looks at the photograph & shrugs his shoulders in his angora sweater. the mansion walls are lined with fine art, firearms & novelty jackalopes.
my body wakes to find itself inside the belly of a larger body. the camera pans a shaky left & then right to look around this body before peering through a gap in its crossed saplings. outside the body, the village has formed a circle to dance round & round. the body is tethered to the bodies of the village. there is nothing to be done but hoax death.
Ariel Clark-Semyck is a poet from Chicago. She is currently an MFA candidate at Miami University. Her poems have been published in Witch Craft Magazine, Yes Poetry, Dream Pop Journal, Occulum, and elsewhere.