I wake up and want rubs itself against the sheet of me.
I tell want I want to want. I want to want
the way want wants. I want the weight of want
wrapped up in my want and is that the want of wanting?
I get bored with want and lull myself to sleep
inside the space its leaving leaves in me.
fallow field, the base, the bed, portrait of morning
one of many blanknesses so white it cannot bear
being looked at long; this ghost, my ghost, my husk of—
Want rolls toward me with half-turned lids,
traces a word on my back and asks me to guess what it is:
A nose? I say, No—angel, want says,
as want goes on, carving away at me like stone.
Outside there are birds.
Are they angels? No, they’re birds, splashing in the muck.
The morning is heavy with them now,
with their never shutting up—
stop filling the gray, the grave, just say you gave yourself to what you wanted
Yes of course, I tell the birds,
but what if what you wanted
never gave itself to you?
I toss my eyes, my two good coins, into the empty
hands of chance, watch want walk to the kitchen
banished from nothing and able to reach
Is that it? Have I become
bird at the window, moth at the light
One of those high-order angels,
the ones that sing forever
and never can touch god?
Mary Helen Callier is a writer from Georgia and current MFA candidate at Washington University in St. Louis. She is the author of the chapbook Spring and Stuff (dancing girl press, 2018). Her recent poems can be found in Sip Cup and Ghost City Review.