Something too dense to move through: wool
water, melted pearls molasses-thick. What voice
is in my mouth? I mean, what ivy ‘round my throat?
I haunt / I long through trees. For sweat un-
touchable. What time is this, in space so dense?
I listen to Sibylle and wait for the wind.
(When I walk through the leg high grass I shall—)
The earth unfurls in unanswerable riddle. I light
a candle and stay awhile. In the blank space
of questioning, the sky turns yellow.
After the storm, I saw a child’s bedroom
with walls blown out. Only a bunk bed,
second story, remained. I light a candle and
stay awhile, fiberglass in my throat. A man
holds a fan to my face that spins electric
and spits water. (When I walk through the leg high grass—)
At dusk, my friend holds a one-eyed cat
in her arms. We speak of Molly Drake,
“I Remember.” My love and hers sit
listening. Molly’s voice, elegiac lullaby,
narcotic for her son. When I was seven-
teen, I had a different love, his body break-
ing in withdrawal. To have broken the body
so well that only more breaking would keep
it alive. I mailed him Pink Moon. A misprint
rendered the picture upside down, moon
drooping. I wanted to die for a while. No, I
wanted to show him the moon. This is a light,
dim but alive. (When I walk through—)
I check my invisible scroll. I check my phone.
Memory: the way the sunset flooded the wooden
room orange. My head leaning on the wood
panels, warming, eyes filling. Lake beyond glass.
Wildflowers in the wind, my potent perfume.
As a child I tried to preserve the smell in glass
jars. Now, there are places we don’t go. No orange
light, no sweet pea, the water an idea. I hold
my mouth shut in public—preserving saliva,
my private disease. (When I—)
A car door crashes on my spine. In the day, my back
buzzes in pain. At night, I dream of fictional insects.
Magenta conglomerate, viscous like jam. Something
too dense to move through. In dreams, the insects
cling to me, static sting like tendonitis. When I stand
in the heat, awake in the morning, ice melts down my
back. When I stand in the heat, awake in the morning,
I see chamomile across the field.
[Thinking I was past this—]
Thinking I was past this—
surrounded by cliffs. Yet,
walking by the Cumberland,
the trees at the end
of the road form a frame
I project through. I dizzy,
picture my body bending
in coils, backwards, finding
Clifden in Nashville, sweating
where my body once wasn’t.
Body bending, candle flicker.
That sculpture of a woman
curled around a candlestick,
the candle burning, form
surrounded by green and stone.
I lost myself there. I couldn’t even
say my name. See: how even language
left me. I see things in my sleep,
I could have said to no one.
Night sweats, blonde hair long
enough to shield stomach, curling
into nothing. In sleep, I was a spirit,
floating, unfurling over blearing
green. I was singing to sheep, bathing
in algae. Thinking I was past this—
skull shudder, ghost re-
appearing, this haunt too
full to breathe through. I listen
to John Cale and sweat.
I picture his sound slowed
down. I’d lay down my sword if you
would take it. I was thinking
about my mother. Through
that tree-frame, mind gone
sideways, I fall into summer’s
humid whirlpool, breath
too thick to see through.
AM Ringwalt is a writer and musician. The author of Like Cleopatra (dancing girl press), her words appear or are forthcoming in Jacket2, Black Warrior Review, the Washington Square Review, and the Bennington Review. She teaches English at Belmont University and is a contributing blogger for Action Books. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Notre Dame, where she received the 2019 Sparks Prize.