It’s heady here under the table, too dusty to ring the dinner bell, too heavy to open the window and let birds
breeze in, wide and ready. Let’s drink to transients. Let’s keep the guests believing
in ghosts and we’ll keep busy waltzing, wanting to be sliced into.
Is there anyone here bedding the master, anyone hungry as the night must be, lonely as Tuesday?
I’ve been dirigible, changing hands, forgetting the milk. Void and taut as a canvas ever since.
Symptoms of Aftermath
* * *
Tonight, I dream the dead and how they want me. They scale the walls. They tear a skylight to the sky. I, requiring life, start a fire and burn them all up. Lady Luck arrives late, we drive our bodies to the dump. Afraid in the dark, I shake her by the shoulders. Where will the survivors congregate? How will we have our eggs? We ration out our breath in the bomb shelter. Luck doesn’t make it. There was nothing anyone could have done. When I am saved, a slim nurse leans out of the white light. I need to hear your voice, sweetheart. I see my escape. I walk into the water. The sky is blue like the ocean, which is blue like the sky.
Camille Rankine’s first book of poetry, Incorrect Merciful Impulses, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press. She is the author of the chapbook Slow Dance with Trip Wire, selected by Cornelius Eady for the Poetry Society of America's 2010 New York Chapbook Fellowship, and the recipient of a 2010 "Discovery"/Boston Review Poetry Prize. She works as Assistant Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Manhattanville College and lives in New York City.