In the Year One, a wild cat is silver open-mouthed;
a caravan heads into the snowy Pamir Mountains so
high there’s no sky nothing but white, darkness of camels, stick
figures, rock; a façade of sixteen pillars carved into cool brown
sandstone, a woman’s curly hair flattened in back—
her stone mask once attached to a pillow where she
lay down or rose up.
Three corkscrew curls,
headband, eyes almost invisible paint gone pupils white.
These years would have been a blank screen—
broken down cars in rain on highways
brakes failing, laughing until my stomach hurt, boyfriends
& fiancés, love & no love, all the jobs I complained about
all the complaining which I thought was kind of funny, an act,
but now I see I have to line up all the marks against happiness,
before I can accept the happiness happening.
Not even erased, just never was, forever a girl.
All of it whatever happened the opposite, the antidote:
my breath & slippers, above-ground air, old lamps & ear plugs,
fans & futons, & all the people I met, my family not broken in
their bones, all our similar eyes seeing each other. It’s not
nothing. No way out but a bridge & very tiny planes. Harbor frozen,
escapes disappearing. I’ll stay.
Kelle Groom is the author of four poetry collections: Spill, Five Kingdoms, and Luckily (Anhinga Press), and Underwater City (University Press of Florida). Her poems have appeared in AGNI, American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, New York Times, Ploughshares, and Poetry. Her memoir, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl (Simon & Schuster) was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. She is on the faculty of the low-residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College, Lake Tahoe, and director of education programs at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Cagibi Issue 7