What he kissed in me
was the bear, the great bruin,
The bed was crowded.
The world was old.
We were young.
The bear slumbered.
It was winter and outside snow
flew against the windows,
slick comet lines.
He wanted me mythic and curled into the cave of him,
my claw and fang hooded in dream,
drowsy and myopic.
But I did not go under,
into the sockeye world.
No, I wanted the night sky, to lean against another
What he kissed in me
roused and reared up,
to that flurry and beyond. Not sorry,
all night I outran him.
Note: Title is from “Last Evening: Index of first lines” by Anne Marie Rooney
Once Not, Now Broken
Before you ask about my lightning mouth,
understand, I might have been a summer,
though I told like a hand,
though I told like a hammer.
and my demons never were ironic.
I was too possible, like death, like the world isn’t.
Lethargic warrior, you didn’t want an other,
you wanted a desert.
Before you ask about the love-struck bell,
think of all the stairs we had to climb,
the heaviness of iron, but how
once we got it going,
we left the ground, we flew.
Time made me soft around the edges, fog-throated,
an October patois, and though I betrayed you
I never was untrue.
Before you ask about the mercury and needles
understand, I'm talking about weather, how
the wind is always moving on
and snow becomes
salt, burning in my hands.
Your angels were faithless, lines of light dividing
air and dust. Transparent—you, the future,
most of all, your disappointment.
Before you ask what I mean by disappointment
understand, those were butter days,
of heat and sweet corn,
nights of loose horses running through us,
the shine of their silken knees.
Susan Elbe is the author of Eden in the Rearview Mirror (Word Press) and two chapbooks, Light Made from Nothing (Parallel Press) and Where Good Swimmers Drown (Concrete Wolf Press). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in many journals and anthologies, including Blackbird, diode, Nimrod, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, qarrtsiluni, Salt Hill, Fire On Her Tongue: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry (Two SylviasPress), A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poems (University of Akron Press), and City of the Big Shoulders: An Anthology of Chicago Poems (University of Iowa Press). She lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about her at www.susanelbe.com.