“searching for soil” by ellie swensson

searching for soil

seeking spoons like my grandmother mid morning
it was dark then and i was too young to know
this is how one loses mind
how one looses in time’s throw
we roll together and
winter is keeping its eye drawn
just outside the window
something thin like your new curtains
something born like the mass held at the shower drain

i’m feeling more drawn to tales of viscera
and the bull of the moon
there are horns rapping the board and the death draping the thresh
there are Selah’s block essays and the afterbirth circling the rim
it’s a different kind of halo these days
favoring flesh to light
searching for soil to hoof across
the good and the disciplined and the skillful
the seed and the crescent and the tooth curved out

we sat on the frozen dock for hours
and shivered our boundaries clean
i watched the flame burn for yesterdays
Cody saw white in the grey wax wavering
and i thought of tapping into the vein
what names to claim and frame silence
my sister’s voice laughing past sorrow
my lover’s voice holding my hips
my mother’s voice rattling the box

my grandmother called in again
me balancing the hostess and the blade
a toppling Temperance
chalice ripe and dripping from hand to hand

it’s another tree branch skinning the joint
what i crave in friction
a reminder to bleed and let flow
flexed for keeping
we need more breath for the flame
Bea says breathe slow like a lover
the necessity of seduction
in this crowded home of open hands
you have to be selective with what to give

the truth of the matter
is that i aint tending my keep
a detailed neglect of strategy
place the lighter on the mantel
keep your eyes on the hearth
finish what you’ve started here
finish what you’ve started in the belly of the beast
remember what it is to move between the lines
a prayerful watch of the grey

a prayer
for the paths that bore me and the paths
i blaze you know like how wounds echo
singing their blatant disregard for generational gap
my grandmother kept herself small
and i flex against my skin to remind me
i am always and never her kind
i am always and never bucking the feminine wild
a desire to bind up the disparate fancy free

ancestral drawn
me swinging ghost swagged and hooded
a thorned Queen of Pentacles
spread spent straddling the throne


bio photo

ellie swensson is a queer southern ex-pat currently writing poems in boulder, CO. she earned her MFA from Naropa in 2015 and is the founder and executive director of Boulder Writers Warehouse, a collaborative studio now re-vamped into a crowd sourced writers’ fund. a firm believer in the importance of eros in the creative process, she also performs with Boulder Burlesque under the stage name Switch. her poems are published in a handful of places you may know, but she prefers her words alive in the mouth and the body.

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