2 Poems

Poetry by Marcella Yakalis

Elder

When you drag your thumb
over the sandpaper of my ribs,
remember who smoothed their fingers
on me first.

From the ghost who wished his plasma on me
in that haunted room,
to the knight that stripped my
spine of bark.

My roots curled in on themselves,
wrapped me in Elder.
But the strongest wood could not
keep the whispers of the Huntsman out.

He eyed my branches
with a lust to break them,
to build from me a watchtower.

So I set myself aflame
when he climbed inside me,
igniting us both.

He kicked the bit of me that was left,
a smoldering hunk of lump wood,
he squeezed me in his palm,
and I stained his hand with the knowledge that he’d held me,
an ink that never left his skin.

So as you draw that sandpaper over my fingertips,
and reform the shape of my lips under your hands,
remember that you are not the first to pick splinters
from your nail beds.

My father knows

My father knows roads the way I know the ink in a pen,
he knows how to navigate highways the way I navigate
Shakespeare,
Whitman,
Austen and Neruda.

My father knows wood the way I know knives.
Maple,
birch,
pine,
he knows what’ll burn, like junk mail and credit card bills.
My hands traverse scars and skin the way his pet my cats,
with roughness, not afraid to bruise.

My father’s eyes see the world the way I do,
in color-skewed frames that squint to read menus
and textbooks.
My father’s eyes close the same way mine do,
anywhere, anytime, aching for the sleep that never satisfies us.

My father’s heart loves the same way mine does,
in darker moments, and strangeness,
with a mouth that won’t speak about the way our souls flutter.

My father’s heart loves the same way mine does,
with slowness, from the deepest corners.

My father’s heart loves the same way mine does,
with totality, and trepidation.

Marcella Yakalis is a First-Year MFA Candidate in Nonfiction Writing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.

Featured Image photograph by E.B. Bartels, www.ebbartels.com.

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