Take the shoulder of a turnpike
and dislocate it. Trust the image unattended
with a slice of yellow Scotch broom and a chain
link fence latticed with spray paint. Hawk up a glob
of dawn, pound it in tight. Fling jellyfish down
in fistfuls and don’t call it dew, call it friendly fire, the pelt
of the doe mosaicked with shine
and bloodbath. Make it clean
and damn it anyway. Quick, teach our kind of mercy
to the herbicide—what happens to Jonah
in the grouper’s gullet, how he emerges bilious and beaming
and not at all saved. The bystanders, when you scatter
them into the bone broth of day, will need to be sieved
for shrapnel. Boil out the ectoplasm waiting in the foyer
of their nodes. Now show them the light
brown coat of morning’s casualty like she means something
more than the sum of the headlights
poking through her fur in wing-white
rib. Unfasten the onlookers’ jaws. Pour in placebo
—sweet hallelujahs. Turn the cars weeping by see-through
for a second. Give her a second.
No one will know what to do with the body so they’ll ask God
to blink once for yes, twice for no, three times
if they’d like to speak with the operator. Let them be
baffled, alone with her shrivel.
Let the dial tone ring and ring.
Eliza Gilbert is an undergraduate at Vassar College. Her poetry can be found or is forthcoming in The Threepenny Review, Frontier Poetry, Third Wednesday, and others. She was a finalist for the 2022 Adroit Prize in Poetry.
Photography by: Nikolay Kovalenko