Erin Marie Hall is an emerging poet, visual artist, and witchy woman from South Bend, Indiana. She has a B.A. in English from Indiana University and is now investigating MFA options. Her work, which explores nostalgia, the occult, mental illness, the apocalyptic, and the strange relationship between the self and the body, appears in Rust + Moth, (b)OINK, Rogue Agent, The Ellis Review, and others. You can find more of her work at erinmariehall.com, silly poetry thoughts on Twitter, and selfies on Instagram
The Ghost of a Massacre (Cancer Song 1)
I know where Your ribs should be:
upon the altar of the living. Maybe salt, too,
or Your sweaty palms against my throat.
Maybe humming something sweet
into the dark. Would that I could help
You, wrap the weight around my ankles
and sink in Your stead. Would that I
could shrink the universe to open the world.
Somewhere, another cold body unwinds
its history, breathes itself dry like summer
laundry on the line. Night blinks, the ghost
of a massacre. But You are not the broken mantle
of the earth, are not Your peachskin flesh,
nor the metal that is lodged inside Your chest.
There is still a dragon sleeping in the cave of You,
and I was born to swallow fire like a sword.
This poem is a meditation both on the concept of Cartesian dualism and on the way suffering transforms both the subject and the spectator. A romantic partner of mine was undergoing treatment for cancer, and this is one of two twin poems written at the darkest point in the chemotherapy process. Naturally, it has been terrifying, overwhelming, and harrowing at times, both for him and for those close to him. I watched from two thousand miles away as he was ravaged by cancer and chemicals, unable to do anything but lend encouragement and love, and this experience changed me in ways I never expected. Ultimately, his resilience is a powerful reminder that the temporary deterioration of the body is not the deterioration of the self.
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
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