Two Poems

by Colby Gates

Insights by Amy Bobeda

We Had Bodies

We grew hungry

for revelation.

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

for borrowing.

The reconstruction:

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.

Skeleton Nymph

1 /

            They pulled your body from the lake

            and thought you were dead.

            I remember

            your hair that summer,

            long and faded—the sun.

            They pulled you from the lake,

            lifted you from the dark

            water, pushed

            your chest.

            They breathed into you until you coughed and opened

            your eyes. Your eyes remembered something

            you didn’t.

2 /

            Our cat had kittens.

One was still-born.

I saw you

            standing in the doorway,

            watching something—

            head tilted, eyes bright.

            I saw the slick, wet body

            dangling from the cat’s mouth

            sticky & red.

            I wanted to stop it.

            You held

            me back, saying, let it happen.

3 /

            Thousands of

            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.

5 /

            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.

7 /

            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.

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