Poems

Strange Fruit

Sometimes I have an urge to slip
my hands inside the soiled, wilting
necks of your gardening gloves;
to let my fingers fill each dusty
burrow, then close my eyes and feel
a blush of nurture upon my skin.

Sometimes I am so afraid my envy
will hack at your figs, strawberries,
or full-bellied beans, I dig my fists
in my pockets and nip myself. Sometimes
I imagine the man who belongs to
the hat hanging on the bright-angled

nail in your shed. I think about you
toiling and sweating with him;
coaxing growth from warm earth;
pushing life into furrows. I am curious
about what cultivates and blooms
there in your enclosed, raised bed –

yet I want no tithe of it for myself.
Sometimes I just want to show
you the places I’m mottled, rotten
and bruised; I want you to lean close
enough to hold the strange fruit
of me and tell me I may yet thrive.

© Kaddy Benyon, 2012

Riptide

A gulch in the cliffs of Ischia,
Where a far-flung mother sparked life

From rubbed bones, worked alone
With blades of moon to carve

My pulse, my shell, the slit vessel
Of my heart. She spindled my umbilicus

From yarns of wasted babies, let the sea
Swell violence inside a crowded, silty

Caul. My birth was sudden slaughter,
A waxing scythe that tossed, heaved

Great waves that peeled my limbs
Of lochia; that cloying skin of sleep.

My birth was murderous purging,
A spew to the swaddle of weeds.

Unknotted I drifted the shift of sands
And tides that tried to smother me.

© Kaddy Benyon, 2011

Milk Fever

You, my Inuit mother – those
low-slung cheeks, watery eyes hidden
inside a fur-lined hood, breasts you
couldn’t unpack in time for your milk

to be supped unfrozen. You strapped
me to a sled, wrapped tight in pelts,
a matted fleece, some buckskin
stretched and dried that summer

you grew me inside you. A reek
of hunt and meat, a thick blood
pulsing the air with each numb thud
of your snow boots kicking up ice,

glittering my hair. North you trekked,
the sled ropes tied to your waist
as you grunted, sweat and chapped.
All I wanted was for you to stop –

hold me still a moment, not leave
me tethered to a lumber pole
as you hacked pale blue blocks, stacked
them to build a snow-dome shelter.

You lit a fire in its pit, heated meltwater
in a wide, silver bowl and held it
steaming wildly to my lips. Head dipped,
you left me in a darkness of sniffing

bear and fox, like a dream, a fear
I wake from: drifts of white linen, you
asleep nose-to-nose with me, almost
invisible, mere breath on my face.

© Kaddy Benyon, 2012

Mummy

i.

My glamorous ancient mother.
The sacrifice of your dried lips
Parted as though the shifts
From sleep to death were nothing
But a startled dream, a
Seamless relocation of spry spirit

As your body descended
To wild, unchartered worlds
Sealed generation upon generation
Until you were disposed for us
To meet. I admire, that’s not the word,
Your adorned breasts now sapped flat,
Blackened medicine pouches
Ransacked like your grave.

ii.

My chamois skin desires its own tattoos,
Craves blue rivers rushing to my nipples,
Vivid clan-scars as evidence or proof
Of the Isis within. I circle you,
Charmed by your amulet, the torc,
Your carefully woven hair, how

The crockery vessels of your eyes
Flicker strange light in no-life,
How your frozen stoop seats
The primitive curve of your son’s spine
(Footless foetus still in darkest peat)
His unyielding pod steeped in bitumen,
Unmolested, perfect, preserved there
Forever against bleeding, breathing: a life.

© Kaddy Benyon, 2011

Firekeepers

She’d plait my prairie-grass hair
as though weaving a baby corn doll,

I’d close my eyes, inhale pollen, resin
and woodsmoke from her skin.

She’d say: never let the embers sleep
wake them up with a stick like this –

and tickle me with sooty fingers.
Winter, she left for the kindling crop,

a hand-carved hatchet on her back.
Seven pale moons have since turned

their wounded faces and some nights,
waist-deep, I part the forest seeking

the glint edge of pulsing swamp
where she swore fireflies hatch under

the curled, peeling skins of pawpaw
trees. I tiptoe in, pinch the soft eggs

between my fingertips and study
my stolen glow. I want to tap the light

forever, treasure it in a jar on the porch,
hear the rhythmic clink of light bodies

thrown like hailstones against ice. I
dream her home: armfuls of hornbeam,

larkspur and blueberries for breakfast.
Yet each new day her bunk is empty,

logs lie brittle in their pit, her lantern
on the porch a silenced heap of ash.

© Kaddy Benyon, 2012

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s