You are in the diode archives diode v8n2



Exorcism Lessons in the Heartland

The spirit best enters the body
as sleep enters – as the body

inhabiting itself unseen. Here

is the chapel. Here is the audience
of promised children, a village

force-fellowed and unequipped.

They think the sun is a good
and strange hymn, a huge oneness

feasting on itself, a proud husband

to itself. They think their village
must be a necessary enemy. When

the preacher mimics the demoned

people they think they themselves
are demoned, the unseen are sick

for the housing of their bodies,

their mutual oneness. Their future
bodies must be made to possess

an uncommon discipline. When the spirit

enters they think of untouched water, of
a golden book closing over their names.


Now I’m a foregone conclusion, the voices in my head talk and talk . . .

They say, no woman spent by man rights herself
aright (again). She fashions another pleadpiece for her
power-bitten heart and soon she is a witch at work
against the flora-ed mothers – good/dirt-kissed/
wage-begone – moving her best for their calamity.

The woman says, once there were two too many hands
against my principal surfaces. I was burgundied/
whipped with drink/out cold/shoeless/far
from myself, when his hands grew disciplined
over me. His body snugged along/into/through/
beyond mine. I lost the residue of an inner summer.

They say, listen, o disaligned. The husband is what
the woman folds into when her oneness betrays/over-
shares her (again). Her mouth closed is a shameful thing;
her mouth noising is a worse. A holed body is holiday
for a brotherhood, a kingdom for a stronger eating.

The woman says, the afterday I fixed him
espresso in bed and put my sense/guilt/grief to rest
for one absolute/unused year. Until, that is,
the stiff factory of marginalia started up (again)
and all my windows freed to a dirty flare. Until
I woke overvexed/overworded/brain-tired/old.


Before the Diagnosis (Spring)

Now the nestlings’ hunger cry
is an anguish shaped

for your ears alone, and the trembling
of hickory another voice

that descends, out-of-temper
from the too long winter,

to you. For you, flushed guardian
of the spring garden,

all that calls calls full-throated.
Nothing is still,

not the refrain the leaves smooth
mild over the dawn,

not the sun’s dizzying throat.
Even the brace of ponies

devouring the field mouths
the armor from your heart.

In its silence their words blow open,
Hear us. For you – we.

Their tails shake like the sky.
It is too much

and it is not enough –
the wealth of you

stretching endlessly, far-wheat to far-
wheat. And it isn’t that

your quick wrists quicken the wind
in its turn or that the soil

self-sculpts to your palm,
but as if all the living

spirit their sadnesses to you,
dead center in you,

who looms so small and strange in them.
A total apartness absorbing

blue field, blue atmosphere, and,
from an urban elsewhere,

your father’s slow starvation –
he whom one by one

the nurses forget, who drifts
up and down corridors

to awaken his thinned legs,
his cheekbones far

too far apart… The white film
that bubbles in the corners

of his mouth winds your dreams
tight as winter.

And your last words to me
please help me when

three years later you fight to rise
from the bed for the toilet,

maybe even now they are with you,
a diminutive ill ringing.

As with every spring, I watch you
from my bedroom where

I compose my histories and I dream
of containing you in me,

of being a new blue grove
you could echo in.

Your words, my words. Then
it would be easy for you

to forget the names you call yourself,
the uncountable names
that others narrow against you,
to sing under the green-

sweet canopy I dreamed of love
and love found me

upward, upward. But spring
urges too many forms,

like the earth voicing the bulbs cutting
it loose, beaks claiming

the fluid bodies exposed there. Aflame,
you lift your face

to the surface of the sun. It breeds
a cruel harvest within.  


Cara Dees holds an MFA degree from Vanderbilt University and is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Arkansas. A former English teacher in France and editor at Nashville Review, she is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry JournalIndiana ReviewThe JournalSouthern Humanities ReviewUnsplendidWaxwing Literary Journal, and other publications.