Traci Brimhall – poems
1. The Blessing (with audio by Nic Sebastian)
…. – Still image remix by Nic Sebastian
2. Jubilee (with audio by Dave Bonta & Nic Sebastian)
…. – Video remix by Dave Bonta
3. The Labyrinth (with audio by Peg Duthie)
(Read by Nic Sebastian)
No one wants to take the stillborn robin
curled in its blue egg, caught
between dreaming and its first morning,
and put it back in its mother’s nest.
No one wants to be the one to put their hand
in the lion’s mouth. It waits beyond the fire.
Something always waits beyond the fire—
not a bride, but a white dress. Not a foal,
but its bones. Something waits inside a black tent
in a yellowed field—an archangel with two hearts
in his chest. When he asks for a sacrifice, I offer
another woman’s son. The blood on my hands
hollowness moves in, my body becomes
the cave I am seeking. I drag the jaws
of a dead wolf from its den for the meat between
his teeth. I am red and reeking with the journey.
I am a ravening animal weeping for the angel
with broken hands standing sentry over the ossuary.
I am harrowed, hallowed. I am stone, stone,
I have not trembled. Love nails me to the world.
back to top
(Read by Peg Duthie)
We pay to walk the labyrinth on the cathedral floor,
to enter the circle and be changed. Humming
unwritten hymns, we rehearse the story to resurrect
the truth. Every canticle is an absolution.
Every requiem a gift for the God we made in the image
of our father. The madonnas shiver in the nascent dark
of their robes. They warn us: you must trust what is sacred
inside you, or endure it, and continue their patient
ministry of birds who will not be consoled, who repeat
the horrors they saw in the gargoyles’ mouths.
No, the abyss isn’t infinite. A half-light lurks even there.
We hold still to learn eternity and feel snow drift
from holes in the roof. We swear to be good, to love
our mothers, but even when we lie to God,
he listens. The walls whistle their low warning.
Wind sings through bullet holes in the windows.
Traci Brimhall is the author of Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton), selected by Carolyn Forché for the 2011 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press), winner of the 2009 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, Slate, The Believer, The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and Best American Poetry 2013 & 2014. She’s received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the King/Chávez/Parks Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.