Category Archives: Poems

Cormorant (poem)

i.

In the morning:

I will slide your tea into your hands
and your hands into my hands
as the sun awakens clumsily
like a cormorant in the moments
before flight.

ii.

In the tender morning, my dearest,
my dear, in the hushed morning:

your cheek is soft as a cormorant’s breast.

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Geographies of Hunger (poem)

I have laid down my traplines
on your body, my love.

I can read the slope of your shoulders
like an animal’s trail;
the sheen of your sweat
is like a trace of soil on my tongue
that lets me taste your wanderings.

The arc of your spine under my palm,
the dip of a dry creekbed –

the patterns of cracks and fissures
around your eyes, the corners of your mouth –

your hips, your knees,
and other asymmetrical rounded things –

the taut line of your lips argues
with the rest of your body,
does not argue with me.

I smell the earth in your skin and I taste it,
see the rain on it, see the rain run slowly
across the hills and valleys of your naked body
that is not mine.

I have laid down my traplines
on your body, my love,
but your body is not my body
and your warmth and your blood are not mine.

Stone (poem)

i.

Salmon scales, damselflies,
the tailfeathers of a hummingbird –

brittle barnacles, a mink’s teeth,
soft river silt –

some of the blood is mine.

Moss, scrub cedar, a deer’s jaw
bleached by pale sunlight –

Creekfoam, dark soil,
sparrowbones –

some of the blood is mine, love.

Starlight, starfish, starflower,
stone –

some of it is mine.

ii.

And I will move in centuries
over your body, in millennia, carving you
with my two bare hands like glaciers,

marking you slowly with my teeth
and my fingernails to build fishtraps
and rock art and sweet middens
across the landscape of your body.

And I will build villages in the crook
of your arm, and teach salmon to swim
in your veins of bright water,
and I will live and die in the deep inlets
of your soft body

with your hair like kelp,
with your hair like spruce roots,

wrapped around us both as we sigh
into the rain and the slow bleed.

Some of the blood is mine, love,
none of it is yours, some is the sky’s
and it will paint the brief story of our love
into the stone from which stories and blood
will someday be washed away,

washed into the sea like the bones of people
and the bones of birds.

iii.

Night slept on, and the shadow ocean
was like the taut, stretched breast
of a skinned jay,

like the inner surface of a mussel shell
when the meat is stripped away.

You sank your teeth in, love, my love,
and some of the blood was mine
and some was the ocean’s

and none of it was yours.

iv.

Some of the blood was mine, love,
and none of it was yours, and some of it belonged
to the little wrens with their fragile beaks
and their precious claws that harmed nothing
in this frail world.

© Jess Housty