Two Poems by Erin Carlyle

Must Leave Something

Smoke from a darling body
rises into an Alabama night.

She lets all her bones go,
but never dances around

any fire, or screams
her sorry gut punch into the air.

It’s just too hard for people
to hear about a dog killed

on the side of the road. Her mouth
stops her dead in her tracks,

but she tells herself: call
momma every day, drive

the car, mop the kitchen floor
because even the wind

outside slices down
the alley way and cuts

the corner of her house, and
when she prepares plates

of food for her husband

then puts herself to bed,
the wind says grief.

Momma as Death and Gate Keeper

She is a white pill

now, suspended in thin air,

and I hear her say she hopes

to come back down, hit

the ground, and grow

her body into a pine tree,

tall, alone. I say: I’d climb

you, knock your only cones

to the ground where the dirt

will swallow the seeds,

but I’m no arborist.

I don’t know enough

to make those seeds grow.

I just know how

to pick a tree clean,

and I know how to let

the death of it burst

inside me like the green

unraveling of the kudzu.

Erin Carlyle’s work has been featured in literary magazines such as Ruminate, Poetry South, and forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, and had a chapbook, You Spit Hills and My Body, published with Dancing Girl Press in 2015. She holds a MA in Literary and Textual Studies from Bowling Green State University, a graduate certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies from Western Kentucky University, and a MFA in Poetry from Bowling Green State University.

Appears In

Issue 9

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