A cornfield grew up and ate the world,
each stalk a whispering, neighbor
husking neighbor in the wind.
We were lost to each other, sister
who stands behind me, holding aloft
the lantern to light my way.
A way is a Zippo in a holy pocket.
Men decided the way: we’d burn
the corn. Sister, I smelled fire
and couldn’t find you. Cornstalks
rise around me like a chorus
of stories. I saw you lying
pinned beneath a man.
A way is such a small thing,
and so easy to lose. I grew up hungry
for skin against my skin. Another
prison with a different view. I hold you
like a glass pipe filling with the last
smoke. Sister, I hold you on my breath.
There is nothing worth saving.
You gesture behind you, an ashpile
where your house once stood.
Smoke is a sinuous story, curving
toward an end. Who were you then?
When bread was a fantasy?
Hunger the only fire smoking you out.
There is no news from home.
Only gossip: the President
Is dead. The state breathes
above us like a vast beast,
its belly devouring our sky.
Why cry? Nothing we own
stays ours. Briefly, we held
everything we could touch
our fingertips to & not be
burned. In war & history,
brevity is a gift, the end
of a damned thing heaven
in its own way. Burn it then,
I say. Make s’mores. Play.
We never loved it anyway.
About the writer:
Rachel Custer‘s first full-length collection, The Temple She Became, is available from Five Oaks Press. Other work has previously been published or is forthcoming in Rattle, OSU: The Journal, The American Journal of Poetry, B O D Y, [PANK], and The Antigonish Review. Rachel Custer is the O:JA&L “Featured Writer” for February 2019. On February 13, 2019, Rachel Custer officially became a recipient of a 2019 Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Image: “Still Life No. 12” by Alejandro Rosemberg. Oil on canvas. 33.5 x 47.2 inches. 2009. By permission. Rosemberg is a hyperrealist painter.Rosemberg is from Buenos Aires where he paints and teaches classical techniques. He attended the National University of Codoba Art School where he received his degree on Fine Arts in Painting. He continued his study of classical painting based on the Italian Great Masters Tradition with Maestro Claudio Bogino. Alejandro Rosemberg is the O:JA&L “Featured Artist” for February 2019.