house of beautiful drownings


by Kristy Bowen



Believe it or not, the ghosts in my fingertips

love this sort of drama.  The ache and swallowtail.

This museum of unruly saints.  Every time they

come looking for broken windows, they leave

with rotting boards.  With  a shipwreck softening

in the space under their tongue.  All my suicides are full

of wasps and winsome. Lady-like and decaying.

Once I could say I kept my deceit  in my ribs, but my ribs

are serrated. This body, like all bodies burning dry and moving

heavily through the world.  Sometimes, between the wars,

we set things on fire in all the backyards in all the neighborhoods,

swam in all the rivers, named all the things that frightened us.

Drowning. Poison. Spiders the size of our hands.

We were fast, fastened to the back of something

that looked a lot like hope moving up and over the midwest.

Now, I go out with my coat undone and come back witch-limbed

and reeking of ditchwater.  Swollen, swerving toward

blind curves and blacked out houses.  If unhappiness is the new happy,

I’ve been shoplifting magazines and perennials. I plant them in perfect

circles around my busted washing machine.

Around my sequin-lined smile.