Poetry: Hattie Atkins

Submersion/Immersion

For how long can one exist in the vessel of another?
To look inside and then be consumed,
safe beneath the palm of devotion,
swallowed into the body of his love.

You’d been warned that voices echo inside that place,
like speech inside a submarine submerged 
fifty feet deep, the beat of your conjoined 
hearts a hollow rhythm

like the slap of skin pulled taut over a drum.
You’d been assured that soon you will claw towards 
the surface, frenzied and unsure,
the hare with its leg caught in the farmer’s trap,

fused in your symbiotic self-destruction.

*

All Creatures

You emerge, bowlegged, and blinking into the sun,
skin paled like fruits before the harvest. I ask you where 
you’ve been, but you sigh and shake your head
and we tread the path home, careful and unspeaking
mud emptying from your pockets
like an offering.

I offer a bowl and I offer a bed, but you’re sated
despite all you’ve abstained, and lethargic 
despite all you’ve slept. 
Awoken from two hundred days of slumber
your burrow beneath the earth both a sanctuary and a sacrifice, 
it is the end of hibernation
at last.

*

Red Sky in the Morning 

She’d been told that the first step is admitting, 
but biting her tongue
blood drawn 
feels safer.
A sacrifice in hefts of red, a territory 
marked on walls and carpet and sheets. An expulsion
and a promise; a guilt-soaked assurance. 
He’s the first to say he’d like to know more. 
She thinks he’s the blood-hound
the grave-robber 
the vulture picking at its leftovers, still hungry
for gore.
She thinks, why does he care about this broken old thing?
How can he tell? 
Is it stained on her skin like red wine on clean teeth? 
She can picture it now: the autopsy shows
veins embedded with shame, fear pressed into tendon, an
arrangement of bones that read like a confession.
She thinks she should smooth down her edges with
sandpaper; perhaps then he wouldn’t detect the crinkle 
of skin, on skin,
the crunch, crunch, crunch of crimson leaves dying in Winter
underfoot, overhead, 
the residual bits, the bits remaining with her 
not hers 
not mine, not mine, not mine. 
They teach, keep your eyes low and your voice 
soft; never shout, never fight 
never weep, never wilt, and 
they preach, don’t be afraid to crumble and crack
for only from the precipice can one 
find their way back.   

*

The Remaining Light

In memories we were made,
two bloated figures emerging blurred from 
the fog, a pair of sun spots riding the crest
of dawn, your face unfamiliar in its
rosy reconstruction.
It plays out only in the mind’s stretch,
in dunes of dendrite that give and hold
and slope: these are selfish dreams in which 
we exist, a truth in reflection so
honeyed it’s sodden.
Are these your tracings on my skin? 
Or just a trick of the light,
just crease and spot and freckle?
These parts that remain in light 
do warp and fade in their restless sleight.