Reincarnation, Waiting for Someone to Speak

BY PHILIP MATTHEWS

Petal is my gristle friend, the violet slash to my face


With her gristled wing-joints, compensatory knife in her side, crumpling, annoyed more than anything


To build the muscles back up in her back, she lifts her torn wings and screams over the sink


A knife to pull from her throat, crisp against her teeth


A massive river behind that


A branch behind that


A chandelier behind that


A mind’s blades


Petal is sifting through seawater, her 26 reflections


Patient, holder of time


Crosser-forth onto ocean with a mind of thicket


Director with an open sore mouth, blossom-lipped


Blue shield, eye at the fold of a branch against throat


Hurricane fire, language open fire


Star in the ribcage, sunk and delicate
as the folds of a dress underwater, fire under
blue wick


Slick metamorphosis in her bones, shaved, stilting on high feathers, her hollow wrist


A plain from which she launches, shepherds in the distance, wanting a shot of oxygen to the brain


Goes out, floodwater brushing the porch, her own hair unbrushed
Such men step to her


with their front teeth, wanting to nibble a little of her light


The taxidermist, the pastor, the carnival-operator, the professor of medieval texts


Men in their Lotuses, crossing over, their feathers on the ferry, real debris


And and plastic, white footprints, laryngitital voices, the discontinued spikes of their crowns


*


Petal divining a flesh will not be seen for days


With three sacks of bone and sand, three trees uprooted by hand, woman raging on her knees, irradiation from her body bluegreen, chlorinated and loud


Dressed in skins she is crawling, moaning like a sheep, cradling selenite, which hatches from its harbor of round edges two heads and a tongue, a speaking across skins, sharing miracles


Her feet on the grass, her arms in the grass, a sudden, ecstatic union with the torso she is laying in her lover’s way

Will he touch it with the wheels in his feet? or leave it, going forth from here, singing?
— When you are ready, Petal will take your hand, lead you to the place she was born 1,002 years
ago
As you enter the house her mother is dying in, the midwife is clearing the table and laying Petal
in a large shell with black cloth, a sacred seed, a wing-joint, a crown, a cup of rice, a cup of oil, a
loudbranch
Before covering her mother with a shroud, cleaning the dishes, and setting a meal for the dead at
her feet
Her mother is lengthened daily as her muscles contract, so she is as tall as she is when she is
buried, four days later
While the loudbranch walks up and down stairs
While in a field nearby with constellations lighting up bright, though cold, two shepherds come
to a shining dragon Her
glamorous neck and breasts Her
pink teeth and eyelight Her
tortured air, her mind resolving to silence
Their bodies prostrate to the ground
Do what you will,
they say, attached to god’s will
And realize what they are listening to
And catch fire, hands heavy as snake-coils
Flooded in visions of light, transfixed, the ego in its little trick fills the sky like weight, most
unhelpful in the end