Renwick Berchild is half literary critic, half poet. She writes at Nothing in Particular Book Review, and her poems have appeared in Spillwords, Vita Brevis, The Stray Branch, The Machinery India, Lunaris Review, Slink Chunk Press, Streetcake Mag, and other e-zines, anthologies, and journals. She was born and raised on the angry northern shores of Lake Superior, and now lives in a micro-apartment in Seattle, WA. You can find her work and additional links at RenwickBerchild.com.
Learn A Dead Language
Learn a dead language
and you will know how to speak
speak with ghosts, that’s what you said to me
the morning brindled, the low sun an owl’s eye
saw your hand snowy and lean
point to the sky, with foodstuffs dribbled your chin
the river was still running behind the silent house
it did not run for me, it did not run for you
the blankets sobbed over your toothpick knees
mucus pooled in your carunculas sleeping
Learn a dead language, you breathed
Learn a dead language
Ad astra per aspera
Ad astra per aspera.
My Mother’s Words
This starts like a worn out fire, the three maidens
long dancing now fast asleep, the red dogs
a-hooning tuckered in the dark, sunk into coals
snoring. Beginning, as foam from the crushed
wave, old bleeds with dried up blood like flakey
cedar chips; it coos quiet, it’s downed,
the felled tree.
This starts in the rot; this starts in the clippings
of newspapers and milk chunky; this starts
in the sag of the thread, in the lily-livered daddy
with the blackened legs; it ignites with the doe
shot dead, gathered and shucked and steaming
on the ceramic buttered; this starts with a daughter
who blew, still blows in her hat, on hills, in jars,
in backpacks left by doorways,
in narwal heads,
in blue eggs,
on train tracks.
The opening line: Because the snow
is an onion with chambers to circumambulate.
The opening line: Because you refuse
to play well with others and your chest is a halved pew.
The opening line: Because mountains
are nippled breasts and spires cocks straight.
The opening line: Because you wept
in the twilit backyard, you had ripped your sage gown.
Because, because. Those were my mother’s words. Because.
She came in tangled bushes and tar. She arrived in a green Ford,
with a white wand in her clawed hand, went up to the fierce lake
to say goodbye. She never did.
Never once begged forgiveness, never once knelt.
What did the gods think would happen, as she fished
her sister’s corpse out the bathtub, planted her ghost
in her prepared womb, birthed a girl with unruly hair
and darksome boat eyes, her plaited vagus nerve
a thrumming fiddle string, those Irish contours,
fingernails full of insect skeletons and seeds.
Mama in her garden. Mama
with her apparitions.
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