Lark Fox

from Small Rituals and other Spells

on the night of the carnival
draw three blue lines below
your left eye.
rub lavender salve into
your fingertips and temples. take
the red matchbook and write three words
on the inside cover:
‘free. this. body’.
tell yourself you believe in tents
and fireflies. let the long gold chain drape
across your breastbone. let
your collar open. let 
yourself breathe. let
the phantom of your heart begin to beat.
you will smell her hair from across the room.
you will give the fortune teller your palm. you will know
without knowing,
the scent of her body rising
up from the night.

it was the winter
the long ache. she fantasized
the snow queen fucking her
in the cold field
beside her home. fucking her
along the grey, the white roadways.
fucking her along the path
to the creek. sometimes
there was food to eat
and a warm bed. mostly though,
it was the sound of the snow, the wind
and her chilled fingers, intimate
with freezing death.

slipping into the cold pool at night seemed simple enough.

don’t think about it.
just go to the edge, hold
your breath and dive. underwater
beckon below, a shimmering dance.

air cold, on bare skin. compelled to splash into a frigid baptismal.
don’t hesitate, just jump in.
the pull. just swim
to the other side.
swim. you swim. whatever breath
rips out as the water bites. it makes you heavy.
cold shuts down each capillary. blood rushes

inward. water and skin meet.
a piece
of you drops to the bottom of the basin.
another piece inside you drops
to the bottom of your longing.

an ice bird leaps
from your hungry mouth
a wail and a shiver.

in the old library, she ran her fingers
over the ancient manuscript.
she could feel it breathing, opening
beneath her palms. cool spice and
wafted up from the pages
she arrived late.
her heart beating,
turning black earth
into gold
and snake 

we adorned each other
face paint,
body and breast. a dangling
belt. jeweled headdress. belled
ankles. feet bare
she entwined sticks in my hair.
we wrapped with fern.
a bundle to carry, to lay down

at the grief tree.

she spills her menstrual blood
from womb to harvest.

cool flesh
pressed into flesh
at the day’s dying.
nitrogen releases
as she imagines
her sperm
across her belly
her cock