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Amber Nelson

Nettle our cups found in the light



I willed your lungs closed up, & spit from your myth

a god that did not break but breathed against the land


a styled crown. I smell heaven, you say when I turn on the light,

all that cotton & moon & lavender. It’s deadly


how we stare. We look at nothing & we feel so often helpless.

It’s the dark, out there, upending all of my romanticism.


I placed my heart in your rubble, a deep southerly still,

and every fleshy cell just burned away. All that’s left is honey


because the sedge is yours, all of it. A past of approaching

hearkens. Our hands follow what they can follow,


as our thoughts. They, too, coo into the wire.

Pigeons, burning for seed, choke on singed feathers.


I want to fill a plough with our astronomy, & weed

out the great bear of our almost loving. The night turns on           


the light & I smell heaven. Someday, I say, we’ll grow

plenty for the cups to dawn & unsettle.


Where white tulips line the stables, where the daffodils are dug up

and replaced by magnolias, where everything smells like rosemary, 


we are stratospheres. I wake the storms & bleed the weather

out of words. You commit the air to blooms


in a march of floral crowns. Who wouldn’t

bask in such suggestion or cry flat out for them?


We were dancing, at first glance, rooting

the land in breath, a reincarnation that soiled our tongues


with lying.  Together, a belief, immune, bowed whims.

It was brief, the light, and full of nettles.


I bury your tableau of sainted laughter then ordinate

the grain above everything. I never know for sure what to do


but when the dreams of honest scribes are righteous

there are verses. There, everything is laid bare & only then


we’ll know the naked price of all the angels. Knowing we were always ghosts,

a bell sings slowly.






Disappointment is a Marble Made of Dying Sun



The leaves glitter off the trees loose

like change. And we, too, are loosened.


            A month ago I smiled.

            Now I watch the sun rise, a stone

            that falls unwarming.


Clarity comes in transit—between two places—

in this case, the limbo between seasons:


            There is no absolute truth

            but that people lie. And also that here,

     the dawn sings             the world into light.


Does the birdsong of each new hemisphere

light new fire?


And what remains when it’s over? The ash of night

chalky in the mouth of the world.


Sometimes the sun rises orange.

Each remaining leaf on each tree, a tiny flame. I reach

to put each out between dampened fingertips

—the hiss of expulsion—


            the world breaks color in an instant


     all of the fires going out—even

my skin with every touch,

even the idea of—


            This is the moment we fell,

            not knowing our light by touch.


O fading light! –

don’t go out. I’m not yet ready

to let go.


     The things I know:


would not a marble’s eye ignite.

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