Adrienne Gruber: Two Poems

Hour Twenty

 

Bowel seized, Iron Maiden,

tailbone swinging like

a trap door.

 

Stuck in this swamp

I bathe in my juices.

Early afternoon melts

 

hardwood into honeyed

strips. I have douched

enough, fermented in sauce

 

of amniotic piss, the drug of

heat has worn. I am combustible.

Walls coat ashen, baptized.

 

Each breath a rubber limb

shackled. Deflated bladder

in its smooth plastic.

 

I should have passed

this cocoon hours ago,

like a gallstone. Instead

 

this baby calcifies, travels blind,

lithos sarcophagos. There should be

an urge to push. I feel nothing

 

but the hip shatter

of my bones, the pectin

pulp of belly. Knees

 

jut the surface, hands tether.

Extraction. Inner curdle

of gut. Shudder along

 

the abdominal fault line.

Aftershock.

Thighs sputter.

 

I want my sister. Where

is my sister? Her slumped

shadow another tomb

 

four thousand kilometers

south and three years

past. I teetered

 

on the rocking chair

in the next room, watched

edges of the sky pink.

 

There was nothing I could

do for her. Alone

in her trough. Just as I am.

 

It comes. Strains of cell,

tendon, sinew, my love

for you blanches.

 

Booze of light moves

through the shades. Time is still

linear. Fuck.

 

 

 

Ghost Ship

 

According to neurobiology, in a lucid dream, the first thing

that happens is that the dreamer recognizes they are dreaming.

When the area of the brain that is usually off during sleep

is activated the recognition of dreaming occurs, the dreamer

must be careful to let the dream delusions continue

but be conscious enough to recognize them.

 

                                                -Lidia Yuknavitch

 

 

A ghost ship sails along English Bay. A sister life.

The one you could have chosen, had you not

chosen this. An embryo dislodges from its web

of inertia. Run along the sea wall, choke

on heaving lungs. One kilometer left. Taste

sea and brine. You burrow your face there.

This might be a dream. You can recognize it

for what it is. Dislodge yourself from sleep.

According to neurobiology, in a lucid dream, the first thing

that happens is that the dreamer recognizes they are dreaming.

 

A thousand hands wave, flutter of wings.

Sun refracts off a broken sail, the ship howls

a lost language. It is the next morning.

Pull on a pair of jeans. Skip the shower.

Pee. Measure honey into a mug of boiling water.

Wool hat over greasy hair. The rain; a life

both fixed and unfixed. Sip and gaze, gulls

on the balcony, overripe heirlooms.

When the area of the brain that is usually off during sleep

is activated the recognition of the dreaming occurs.

 

He comes home after lunch. Over leftovers,

he asks for results. We’re going to South Korea,

you sing, pack your bags. We’re going to teach five-year-olds

how to tell their age, when their birthdays are.

Let’s not base our lives on equations. Ripen heartache

from teeth. Walk our burdens into the light.

The dreamer must be careful

to let the dream delusions continue.

 

The heart is slippery. It thirsts for a fresh body,

an uncontaminated taste. We unlearn the rawness

of hours, the circadian rhythm of the dream state.

How to rupture pure will; crouch over the bowl,

a bouquet of waste blooms. The dream’s job is birth.

The dreamer must cast a tender longing.

Decisions are a spook of running water. Be still

while ghosts stream along your thighs

but be conscious enough to recognize them.


Adrienne Gruber is the author of the full-length poetry collection This is the Nightmare (Thistledown Press) and three chapbooks, Mimic (Leaf Press), Everything Water (Cactus Press), and Intertidal Zones (Jack Pine Press). Mimic was awarded the 2012 BpNichol Chapbook award. Her second full-length poetry collection, Buoyancy Control, is forthcoming with BookThug in 2016. She’s usually found hiking in North Vancouver with her daughter Q.

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