the hill of ivy fat with wolf spiders and sow bugs
hollow bones thinning under the cedar
raccoons washing their fingers of fish
at the water’s edge.
spooning the thin lines between things into my wet mouth
and spooling them haphazard around my teeth,
making a golden net of my throat—
i must have turned my brain into this mess:
purple an octopus’ cheek and also
a bruising scar from falling along the creek
not duplicated, just
synapsed in some misfiring imagination
they won’t catch on the heavy films.
in st. paul, the tiger lilies begin to bloom. i imagine instead
the alevin’s yolked throat
oyster mushroom squatting against a nurse log’s back,
slick and dark with rain
nasturtiums crowded thick along the estuary’s stink
the quickest short circuit nostalgia buzzes
and winter crawls out of me in a silvered run
sharpens itself at the back of my skull.
once, i picked a tongue-pink petal
from a rhododendron and touched it to my own—
i was always growing where i shouldn’t
thickening the string between each disparate thing, like
my knee a facsimile of st. helens’ shuffled summit
making me ≥ a mountain—
and in this tube, my stomach green as lake light
still incubates, seasonlessly, the flat leaves
lying in wait for the right flower
or the most poignant tongue
or the good brain
whichever the pain can invent first.
here and back then, i have the most golden throat
where all the places are one place in the swallow.
they won’t see it in the reading,
the light made up of so many knotted strings so as to build the hottest sun
ruining the images like too much hell—
i exist in an overactive hemisphere
i do feel the suboccipital light, a daybreak.
it’s just not right here, although my blue fingers always reach
even as i lie metal-less and still.
Clair Dunlap grew up just outside Seattle, Washington, and started writing poems at the age of six. She is the author of In the Plum Dark Belly (Beard Poetry, 2016) and her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, L'Éphémère Review, Hobart, Peach Mag, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Occulum, Noble / Gas Qtrly, and more. She currently lives in the Midwest and answers research questions in an academic library.