One man said there are hundreds
of delicate articulated bones
in the human head. So don’t let it
get punched. Easier said than done.
You see his risen fist, her lowered neck.
See the blank canvas sails of God’s back
and the river hemorrhaging
the past, spheres of blood in free fall,
and the splatter you can read like a map,
fingers tracing the convergences.
On the road ahead, there’s a dead end,
and no one to portage with. But I’ll find my way, she said,
to no one in particular, no one left. It’ll be all right, she said, running away. It’s going to be OK, she said, her hands
on the back of the man who raped her.
Oh Rappahannock, Oh all you drowned girls.
Jack in the pulpit burst from the seams,
and the trout lily was up,
meaning it was time to fish. Shhh, quiet now,
little brother crying over the hooked lip.
Watch her go, lights flash, starboard and port.
Look, the girl’s frail arms like bones
lift the boat. The starlight on the water
twinkling of eyes. Thief in the night.
She’s Nancy Drew hiding out in a cove.
She’s got it all plotted out,
location by sectioning, or Where am I?
The place where the bearing lines cross.
Look, the girl’s hands turn to oars
and there she goes
far beyond the skies.
Added: Friday, December 15, 2017 / From "Thrust," (Persea Books, 2017) Used with permission.
Heather Derr-Smith is a poet and human rights activist with four books of poetry, Each End of the World (Main Street Rag Press, 2005), The Bride Minaret (University of Akron Press, 2008), Tongue Screw (Spark Wheel Press, 2016), and Thrust, winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky/Editor's Choice Award (Persea Books, 2017). She is also the director of her brand new NGO called Cuvaj se, an organization that supports writers in communities affected by war and conflict. She teaches poetry workshops in conflict zones with refugees and survivors of trauma.