I want a glass violin crafted from a world too naked, too embraced,
too lost in the stretch of grave up to its blue skull, to see music
precise as a beetle that lies on the path through wheat grass and mint, three pairs of legs folded neatly on its belly.
Earth eats and breathes air, and sleeps, clothed in skin, and blood just beneath, and people who live with practical claws,
a failing of infant fingernails, not knowing that bell ropes, like human hair, turn gray.
Mirrors here are cruel and smooth as asphalt: all of us
fit neatly inside the empty envelope propped against a cup by the suicide’s bed.
Questions: under what conditions do you dream of the dead? What do they hold in their hands? And in their eyes, what do you see? Be specific.
Statistics: of all loves, mention only marriages; of all children, only those who were born;
from each hundred, those not to be taken lightly: forty and four.
In the garden, someone digs up a rusted argument from beneath a bush,
someone crouches under a bench, pretending to be a wolf, just like the growling we call a dog.
As if only a room away, the world sings and combs her hair, which still grows.
A moth large as a house alights, feet barely brushing shingles,
its new-dried green the exact color of summers one never expects to see again.
I want more than you offer, something austere –
slight lamp-sway through woods, a red-hooded jacket worn,
adored years ago that casts a glow, panes loosening the wind:
come in come in. Am I beautiful yet? Be careful
of what you are willing to do without: children covered in cobwebs,
windows that hang in air, a forest of candied cottages,
pale animals caught in a fell of bluets and witches broom. Each season
built this wall of bones, your body rushing away from the names I gave you.
Cracks in the plaster become a fascination, as when a crazing
of bare oak branches against night skies become openings,
an escape from the predatory eyes trapped in moth wings
that warn I am not what I seem and no one will thank me for it.
[thank you for your submission]
While there is much to admire here,
the character you’ve fashioned from me to fit your self-titled tome
feels strangely unformed for such an inherently endearing figure.
Also, there is a frustrating lack of dialogue between her person-
ality and any other, most noticeably your own.
Due to the constant strain and pinch of the role,
I regret to inform you that I will no longer be inhabiting it.
As for the sketch you’ve offered for my own (tentatively
planned) epic-length tale, after careful deliberation,
it’s been decided to cut your part entirely.
Best of luck placing it elsewhere.
-- Virginia Smith received her MFA in Creative Writing from Northwestern University. Her poems have appeared most recently, or are forthcoming, in Denver Quarterly, Lily Review, Moria, and Southern Poetry Review.