OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 6
Head on my wife’s lap, I bite
into a blister. The toughened skin
unfolds a little between my teeth
as she scrolls through charts
comparing weeks to pomegranates,
first the seeds, then the rind.
Outside, a twig taps on our window.
There was a time she worried
our tree would suffocate
beneath the ivy and turning leaves.
I sheared it in a sweatshirt,
the handle chafing my hand
as I undressed its varicose bark,
obstinate stems where petals
snapped from joints. Life
hides behind such violence;
where the blade hacked off
spring shoots, salivating at the
sunlight. At the foot of the trunk,
they sleep. Then, they’ll walk up
the branches when we aren’t
looking, not really, and overrun
everything they clutch.
Your name will live longer than you,
why my wife and I sift through lists
at the breakfast table, months before birth.
A rind of grapefruit fills the air as it peels.
Each morning, she unfastens a little more.
How close saying your name is
to tasting forbidden fruit. My wife has stopped
rattling the alphabet, whispers of sugar
her spoon scrapes from a jar. Behind sheer curtains,
a cardinal ignites blue spruce. I pour back over
one column, then another. Naming is a burden.
Biology says there’s time; I can’t help but notice
the pages grow gaunt in my grip. Somewhere,
the cardinal’s family waits in a nest;
here I am, asking how to call you home.
Geoff Anderson curated Columbus, OH's first poetry shows for biracial writers (The Other Box), translation (Lingua Franca), and immigration (New World). He’s a Callaloo fellow and his chapbook, Humming Dirges, won Paper Nautilus’s Debut Series (2017). He has work on/forthcoming in Tinderbox, Juked, Southern Indiana Review, and www.andersongeoff.com.