by Colby Gates
We Had Bodies
We grew hungry
Pupils dilated from the center,
able to discern distant objects—
cone and rod focused on the space
between god’s broad shoulders.
The work began: dismantling the body of the divine—
dark curtains of flesh opened, exposed
a spine of barbed and hooked bone, scraped
a body in our image,
a place to hide.
We pin up this new god’s body like a moth,
stretch it behind glass. Observe:
a clean cut crucifix, the meat hanging.
The hoard of it: I see it.
The love in it: see what I have done?
Scratch across the all seeing eye and god seeps out—
honey pot ooze we dab at with bits of white bread.
They pulled your body from the lake
and thought you were dead.
your hair that summer,
long and faded—the sun.
They pulled you from the lake,
lifted you from the dark
They breathed into you until you coughed and opened
your eyes. Your eyes remembered something
Our cat had kittens.
One was still-born.
I saw you
standing in the doorway,
head tilted, eyes bright.
I saw the slick, wet body
dangling from the cat’s mouth
sticky & red.
I wanted to stop it.
me back, saying, let it happen.
cicadas crawled out of the earth,
shrugging off old bodies.
We picked nymph skeletons from tree trunks,
stuck them to our clothes, crushed them between our palms.
You filled a jar with golden husks.
You stuck out your tongue, put one in your mouth.
That night, hidden
In the leaves of trees, an invisible symphony, a collective cry
so loud we couldn’t sleep.
You walked outside & peered up into the dark canopy. Seeing nothing—
you took off your clothes & and began to slowly climb,
limb over limb, a low, pulsing thrum in your chest.
I knew you carried something
I couldn’t understand.
The summer ended.
Autumn crept in. Everything started
to die. Strange
constellations moved in the sky.
We bent them into known shapes, named them—
This one is mother, this one noose.
Swing. Cradle. Bone.
We laughed until you didn’t.
You were looking beyond the sky.
What do you see, I said.
I don’t see anything, you said.
I took your hand in my hand—
I see noose. I see swing.
I see mother. I see bone.
I found you
face down in the bathtub.
I tried to lift you.
You slipped back into the water again and again.
And again—golden hair streamed
around your face, clinging.
I tried to breathe into you. I remember your mouth,
sheen of teeth, the quiet.
Colby Gates lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He received an MFA from The University of New Mexico in 2018. His work has appeared in Ninth Letter, Action, Spectacle, and elsewhere.
Amy is an artist pursing her MFA at Naropa Univeristy. She is founder of Wisdom Body Collective and the Ekphrasis Salon. He work explores the body, myth, and human origins. http://blondewanderlust.com