Silent Forest – by Rachael Ikins

Prelude:
I’ve had the rending grief,
chopped-off hair, bloody scratches.
Nausea, insomnia. Yes.
I have visited that forest.
This one is silent.

1.
Grief is a young woman on her horse. Shadowing me through trees. No matter how fast I snap my head around, I cannot see her.

Yoked to Summer, garden weeds, pests, harvest, I plod through July.
Huzzah each blossom—bud to husk. My heart isn’t in it.
I flinch beneath sun’s
relentless brilliance.

I want Autumn, leaf piles to hush highway’s yawn as it stretches and pops, Monday mornings.
Leave me alone
in the woods
to listen for those muffled hoofbeats.

I want cold and snow, a trail to follow early evenings.
When I can sneak out of the house, into birdless quiet.

Snow, so I can find those footprints,
See her profile, shout some soundless plea. “Go away!”
See

her turn her head.
She says, “I haven’t
forgotten you.”

2.
My kettle screams,
the dogs bark at squirrels.
Rush-hour streams the highway. Grief is a shadow,
a girl, her horse,
following
me.

Copyright Rachael Ikins. 2019. Read more by Rachael here

Rachael Ikins is a powerhouse of creativity as well as Associate Editor at Clare Songbirds Publishing House in Auburn NY https://www.claresongbirdspub.com/shop/featured-authors/rachael-ikins/2018 Ikins is an Independent Book Award winner (poetry), 2013, 2018 CNY Book Award nominee, 2016, 2018 Pushcart nominee

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She has grown out of herself – Candice Louisa Daquin

 

The girl, the gash, the glory
she was once even referred to as happy whore
sinister slut, fake good girl
the girl of multifaces
is no longer a girl
she has grown out of herself
the sharp thorns of her virginity
long bled
she is now a woman of dubious age
standing on the hemmed periphery of other girls with elastic limbs
their body language leans away, saying; she is no longer their sister
(they whisper, they whisper)
an aging divide
four and five, divide by nine
long multiplication
she has been subtracted out
something about the lines in her eyes
she’s not one of us, they say in collective pollen count
coming together like a quilt
leaving her to wade out into flat water
only five years ago, only less than that
when she had a full head of bright hair and nimble back
she somersaulted in their field
picking irises
and they did not bat an eye
she was under the radar
nar, nar, nar!
old enough to be mother to some
those angry girls with tight biceps and lungful of words
but they did not detect
the softening of her cleavage
the jello in her thighs singing its spring bulb
they only saw her pretending
thought her good enough and one of them
til the sickness left its indelible mark
a red hand print covering her left eye
the one she could not see well from
(Premature macular degeneration, you may lose your sight, the optician gleefully sung)
turning her with its yellow dusted baptism
honest to her guilt of years lived
I am four and five not divided by nine
I smell different to you
this is what men sense when they sniff around us like
wolves come from rain storm
instinctively keening toward the coltish and fawn
as we who are older turn like wine
another vintage they have no taste for
she could fool them well but did not, after her visit to Hades
wish to pretend to be a girl anymore
only a woman could have survived
and it was stamped as surely as Ash Wednesday
a third eye
the slow drain of life began
she saw it first in her hands, then her mouth
it did not so easily tell stories
when Spring came, they knew her truth
without saying anything, left her out
of their Mayday circle
all the light-footed snow rabbits and their daisy chains
now when she tried to join in
they circumvented her, like
she was a parent, a teacher, an elder
with respect, but no thought given
of her pattered exclusion
maybe she did the same, when she
had such halo radiance
just as boys turn to men and wish
to scoop up girls and remain
ever held in youthfulness
she saw her own extinction
in their slow passing over her gaze
she was becoming invisible
first her hair, then her arms, then her feet
gone into deep water and not returned
she swam out to the lighthouse
where piercing rays caught
undulated water like a lovers stroke
and by fevered spray of waves against rock
stared at her future like chain and ball
why does a woman have?
first the pummeling of her elders
constraining her flight?
then reigned condemnation of those
wishing to corset and divide
and finally, as she ages
the talisman of wisdom enveloping her
an unspoken rejection by her own sisters
who think themselves invulnerable
far removed, not tainted yet by
her approaching wither
til the only one left to speak
is her own voice
and in unblemished muslin sky
she becomes a single long tail bird
seeing everything
from on high
that lonely place
of insight and exile
how she longs still
to be pulled into the sewn circle
embraced by her daughters and shimmering girls
given the crown of daisies
led whirling and laughing
around mosaic may pole
like a girl who has remembered
her life before she was born
again clasping the soft hands
of future
fearful of nothing
in the rawboned bosom of her sisterhood

Scarlet Lines – Candice Louisa Daquin

Water-Flowers-Photography-by-Nicolas-Senegas-e1473392893297

We were running so fast, lost our hold

on reality

it became a normal thing to

wake when darkness blotted sky with festive blackout

silence roamed halls of disapproval with tender switch

then I tasted, the purity of life

like a distilled drink, untouched by sweetness

this draft did not yield to usual fears

of becoming irrelevant as a woman

shifting weightless from one state of being to another

without permission, no discernible change

save the decisions made in our absence

by controller of who we are, when we don’t yet know

how to halt the discourse, throw stereotype and expectation

out with convention

the whip and goad of woman since

first she was brought to her knees and told

I control the discourse, your identity is shaped

and fractured by my say-so

I label your value or deem you worthless

because you are too old

beyond a date in time

there the guillotine falls

sorry you’re on this side now, without your head

sorry you can’t gain admittance into our club

we only like them fresh and mailable

any woman who thinks for herself, must be trouble

make up rules to control her, keep her cowed

give her endometrium and other punishments

it’s all rather biblical, said the atheist as he

inserted the next record of tricks

some cruelty smells like him

and his turpentine prostituted room

burning on false fuel, I was only 18 then

yesterday and a century later

we don’t oblige women with scars and fat

nor sagging breasts, nor any chin hair

if you’re greying or balding, go fuck yourself

no one else will

the seat in the waiting room is a laundry shute

out with the old, in with the new

we have voracious appetite for shiny flesh and unstrung hymens

I borrowed some platforms and sewed up my leaks

put on a negligee and three layers of peat

the bog man looked pretty good for his age too

hide behind war paint, chew through your sickness

give me succor baby, give me raspberry crush, give me voodoo

lovers who oblige the second time around and the fourth and the fifth

standing freezing outside Hotel St. Pierre

drinking your waste and glut of youth

I gained admittance on false pretense

hasn’t it always be that way?

change your name, gender, race

put on another person’s face, inherit for a day

or an hour or a life time

all the little girls want your number now

all the boys want to pray between your legs

serve me something unshaven and hot instead

there are fevers in the walls, trying to get out

we have three minutes until it’s midnight

then illusions are exposed, everyone sees the truth

middle-age never used to be a purple bruise

we made it this far

tomorrow the sun is coming out

remove the war-paint, undo divining spell

maybe the light won’t extinguish you

I want you to like me, for who I am

not the girl who tricks you with her little doll cries

was it yesterday or last century?

we lay beneath your blanket and you impregnated me

with the urge to live forever, never grow old

even the beautiful turn to grub and worm food

live fearlessly, wear yourself boldly, you said

as you eased the knife to the sweet spot

cutting upward from your pulse, in thin

traceable, scarlet lines