Here’s the hook, here, the thunk of the heaping heart. I cannot remember when I held the marrow of anything in my fist or the last time
I tied someone into a knot, slid him across my teeth. Yesterday, my knife
slipped, and I felt my heart in my thumb. People outside move briskly or not at all. A cardboard roof dissolves in the rain,
and when a mother leaves, the shriek from her child is so fierce it blotches his face and neck like a blood orange.
Things split. I can press the cut whenever I want to feel nothing more. If the next man tries to fix me,
I swear I’ll put myself out in the cold. Say: Without you, nothing. Say: I’m nothing like you mean it. Twist my hair,
pull back my head till I can’t hide the softness of my throat. Wipe my breath off your mirror and there you are,
bellowing outside my door. There it goes again: my heart spinning to the floor, a penny dropped as you pull it from your pocket.
In These Woods
It is cool and still and our ears rotate towards what interrupts. Trees hold a repetition of reptilian eyes we come to see even as we eat leaves flipped to predict a trouble wind and our insides ache for days. In a stretch of evergreens, we curl into each other’s shadows, pause, tremble in inkberry, too here to forget the shock of salt block dissolving in the berry bush, the sometimes trees with odd spots that hunch and hide fire under limb. Some of us still have an errant bullet lodged inside a leg, the hunter’s eyes drilled inside our minds, know the hunger of the wild, unkind, so we are quickened, bright awake, bite off endless ticks. Sometimes, in a clearing, we find a ring of apples, wet and shining. Is it luck or an awful silence inside? These days we cannot be sure.
-- Jocelyn Casey-Whiteman was raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She earned her BA at the University of New Hampshire and her MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University. Jocelyn is author of Lure (Poetry Society of America, 2010). Her poems have appeared in journals such as Boston Review, Guernica, DIAGRAM, and she’s received awards from the The Association of Writers & Writing Programs. She writes and teaches in New York City.