two shorts

by Sarah Bates

Brief History of Spring

In the town where the mayor sends a Facebook message to warn the people of the wandering polar bear, I let you go. And on page 105 of the Brooklyn Rail, a stranger named Emily writes “Goodbye #4” so I guess this is goodbye to the wind, to the branches and the boats moving through the Arctic Circle, you in a pair of women’s Bermuda shorts walking down the Las Vegas strip alone. I hate the spring, the drought of every atom. This is the aftermath of using a telescope in the middle of the street for the second time. Another moon poem, but with birds, birds flying over the red building, the river: another first date, but you’re on Earth and I’m on the moon. And yes, I’ve already matched with someone new, but if you know anything about the lines on a face, or the truth of a thing, you know that he doesn’t make me laugh like you. This morning, everyone at the breakfast table is in love. And the sun is hard and the sentence is soft and the people at the breakfast table are kind and now I know how everything that is made can be broken. Like colors painted on wood or skis made of glass. For weeks, I wanted to text you from the Grand Canyon, “I think my heart is dying,” but instead, I put it in a poem. Now I know how it sounds to get from Bright Angel’s Point to the wound. This is the 84,000 holes of my body, this is where the wind burns its tongue on its own wailing. This is the trees looking back at the landscape in order to move on. I am dissatisfied with moments, with the spelling of cherry and owl, the dumb birds going to eat, this constant parting of the mouths of bees.

 

The Dinosaurs That Didn’t Die

I have never left the fields of frozen buffalo. Sometimes a woman is so bound up in the bobbing of caves, she cannot pull close enough to the water for sound. I used to cry to the smell of Old Spice while scrubbing the soap scum off shower heads. Once in line at a CVS, I picked up the latest issue of National Geographic so I wasn’t buying a twelve pack of condoms alone. Like the first bird, I, too, have always wanted to gouge the earth, the one with the plumage on its wings setting off a series of catastrophic events. I want to get to the part of the story where the planet is lying down. On page 78, in the passenger seat of your blue Jeep, I read just to think of all the ways a person can be kissed. I am afraid of the places my body will never go. I want to be jaws bristling, claws out, another solar system with sharp teeth. I have always felt in my body this deadliness in being quiet for too long. Sometimes a woman is afraid of the things that happen that keep even the oldest birds silent. Picasso was on the cover and the girl at the cash register laughed and said something like, “wild night?”

Sarah Bates has an MFA in Poetry from Northern Michigan University and currently teaches at Southern Utah University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Fugue, The Rumpus, and The Normal School, among others. Her manuscript, Tender, is forthcoming from Diagram New Michigan Press. She is from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Artwork courtesy of: USGS