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Five Poems
Last Light in the Garden

The fruit is a skin fruit round to the round eye
its cut face green & wet cut slant in the low light its
thousand chambers crevassing & swelling out the quick
beading sour every sense bends to touch
the eye wants the sour glist the glister
seared to its clear curve the fruit a skin fruit round
& greening split the hold-rinded cells
there is no interior what is closed
is unborn till the pass of the knife what I know is what
I put my mouth to it blind
I am as I am now the sphere a sphere & nothing else
until it meets the driven nail the white rim
of the wrought finger bursting oil from the pores peeling
pith stem skin navel back back it puckers yields a new lucent
exterior spurting over the tensed knuckles & stinging where they
split if I could heal it if I could re-seam could seal the seeping shut
weep shut the seaming lids shearing open skinned
If I could put it back I wouldn’t


The One and the Many

We won’t hand it over. Our Alone Project.
We weep into its tender grasses, the kind
that clean out a tired ram’s spring gut, give him
a fighting chance. Lungworm, heartworm—
if you slit him open now you would see them
all huddled in there, in the coiled tubes
of his body. The offal. Steaming and glistening
in the sun, an occasional straggler dropping
from the broad nostrils. Forgive us. We were waiting
here, in the thickening ice. We worked a long time. Now
we try to give what we found, a little basket
hiding behind each back, full of the young shoots.
They are so green. Mercifully green. We say so. Yes,
they are alive, we say. We, too. We are still sick.
We are overrun. Our winter legs like reeds,
flickering over the cold marsh, over the wet fens—
until up through the snowmelt come the firstfruits,
the piercing early harvest. We eat it. We offer it,
and then eat it. God help us we don’t want it.


Self-Portrait as I’m Admitting It

I am ashamed to list what I love. Reducing all of it to an itch
in the mouth, in the groin, a screen the brain fans out with a
click. Crinkled, and covered in print daisies. Eyes blinking

above it in surprise. When we walk we keep them lowered,
kicking stones down the sidewalk to show God, see, we’re
thinking about something else, we didn’t even see you,

haven’t gotten any of your calls. Read your messages only
in the draw-down. We fall asleep, biting our tongues against
each other. Fingers already itching. The mind already building

itself a paddock, roving through the fenced night grasses. Pale.
Slight and pale, with large ears that you can see into. They
quiver. It has teeth, too. Tiny eyes, lashless, and a bald tail.

I wish I could love it. Wish I had some food to throw. It looks
so small and out of place when the light rakes over it. Even here,
in its own enclosure. This hill where it births its young, where

they nose each other gently and sleep hot and curled together
in their burrow. Weak in the weak light, and small.


The Dance

Dance with me so I don’t have to learn the folk dance with Seryei and instead
I can jostle the accordion player whose name we never learned his eyes closed

and his eight-toothed smile like a man standing on the dirt of the ever-after like
those bellows came up from the wet ground of his flesh just how he always hoped

they would dance me to reassure the body of its years of its pains pinned to its
hair like flowers or strung yellow in a hammock its legs swinging over a dirt
yard scrambling through the salt marsh crunching broken shells standing under
the canopy tree in the Botanic Gardens late May branches getting heavy dance
the dance of when I was six and I met that tree when I was twelve and sat in it
thinking what kissing would be like in the backyard wrestling the tomato vines

never pausing the proceedings to empty the earwig traps dance the way the sun bends
down with the earth nightly and on time reaching through the canopy-leaves brief but
warm the way everyone said it would and then later the way the blaze blinks out
and further down the coast one man bends close over a hot fire humming to himself

cooking himself a fish



I got on my knees for you. It is the same, now, alone on the porch,
listening to the waxwings settling in the damp new grasses. Coming
back. Do we die even now? I’m asking. It is unfair to ask, I know,
but you could give it anyway: the question: trailing its wings wet
and new, spread wide, clinging to the lintel with its eyes shut. Its
young body quivering. I want to touch it. To see if it is warm. How

will you be with me, after? When it is over? The little thing. It is
afraid of me. It presses flat between the screen and the glass, refusing
both. After it leaves: what is there left to ask? Deep in the descent. Yes,
that one: the man, blind, stretching out both hands. And the woman.
Crouching at his side. She straightens up, pushes the hair out of her
face, laughing, saying: Brother. Brother, I knew you would come. 


Emma De Lisle is a PhD candidate in religion at Harvard, where she studies sacramental art, poetry, and the eucharist. Her work has appeared in Colorado Review and Peripheries, among others. Currently, she lives and works in central Wyoming.