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Mourning Cloak

dotted in the brinklight
of sky, pendant ragged
laciniae dangled
sound of the auscultator
scoping the

you have not come equipped
for this

sunlit bat,
for the overexposure between
the tines

flying twig in the night
where you will unlace

this forest from its skeleton
a charred vein where lighting struck
up and back to the nut-tight skull
of jackpine cones curled
deep in memory

seed in scales
scales the vibrato
quiver under ivy

the no-weight of a touch
descends, sticks

the brush of my hand under your chin against the hardness where it should be soft, uncleft

not the tube of an ossified breath
not the chant that will carry me home:

bone where there shouldn’t be
bone where there shouldn’t be


far before you are able to speak we are
tending your mouth, the silent wound (segmented abdomen
glycerin glisteny)

so private, the losing of hair, the shedding of
dream            chrysalis lidshudder,

starred between-leaf blue
night aglet
a crimson bird
the voice going down without even
a click

the first time I saw it
the light went gluey

I knew I had seen it because it wasn’t just yours
it pulled up a chill in me that I wasn’t ready for

I let it go as quickly as
fog unrolled from a lake
or bondfast peeled from fingertips, the unique swirls of our prints

the next time we were in the emergency room and you couldn’t move
from the bed
the glue was thick and still
and you were going down in it
we all were
in through the mouth

when the self becomes all one hasn’t said
choice hardening in a tilt of habit

pinning the specimen, you
were the wound we were forced
to understand
you, our own gaping silences (with the heartrate of a marathon runner
you, our own drowned faces

we gathered round you as we have gathered round fires
staying longer than we planned
recognizing less and less
by the cut of the flame
ourselves. making plans making assumptions making
stories to walk home on.
stories to bring us back.

the choice twigs
a sky wetragging
the rays, ciliate,

it takes a raging inflammation
pancreas, thickleaf
to stop the wasting

the plot was arbitrary. any quarter-cut would do.
and the growth, you say, the growth was all in the ash.

lake light
a petri dish of sky

auscultatory, omentum
with a stethoscope to a leaf
the ear tuned to the approaching

fall                       I listen for fish touching in the water.
when the choice tilts
oz. by oz.
and the weightless grips you

the foetus, shaped like an ear

and the boy, infatuated by the small, by what might fit in his

birdview, now adjusted to the hairlines of the forest, the receding
cilial twitch the wince the headrock the drool the cracked the flaked the fevered the rashed the fanned the volume the channel the dimmer switch the dinner
tray proximity to the bloodflow the hairloss the lung capacity the hydration the bed fluctation the bone density the pain threshold the morph schedule the wrist straps the length loosened the radius of wrist to slip
a word


Jennifer Still is a Winnipeg poet interested in multidisciplinary projects and poetic tactility. She recently served as the 2015 University of Winnipeg Carol Shields Writer-in-Residence. Her third collection, Yield Eyelid, is forthcoming in spring 2017 with BookThug Books.

To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.