pandora and the devil’s crossroads by Hannah Hamilton

pandora and the devil’s crossroads

1.

picking up passengers for the carnival tour of
the places i inhabitant: around the fatigued
grumblesome tiger in its enclosure and my little hut
built up from my landlord’s visions of the oncoming
rapture and the sound of cats clamoring for bowls

of wetfood. we careen

further from stillness, i spend my days tourguiding
around the sheets i’ve thrown over the statues
of deities i’ve taken baseball bats to, avoid
talking about prosperpine whose eyes i took first,
a visor of craterage in a strip across the bridge

of her surreal & elegant nose. why, i asked the chisel
chipping her blind, would a woman quarantined to hell need
to see? sure, six measly months of plump peach orchards,

but what could erase the prick of scales from
cerberus’ mane? what compares to the ballroom-spinning
unraveling whisk of gladiolus by nightlight? the downbelow
ricochet of soulstones finding the cracks in hades, finding

them bottomless, and how can satisfaction come when
prosperpine, ears blooming fullflumed in the dark
like evening primroses, hears with her own ears:

the heavens
have a ceiling
but
hell has no floor.

2.

she says, you think your body is too much and i think
mine is too little. size matters. but if i am to lug around
arms legs shameswollen stomach, shouldn’t i have a say in fleshly

proportions? she says, to be someone’s heart is beautiful,
of course, but in iran to say someone is your liver is
the highest form of language love can take. detoxifying all
that cumbersome rosewater & magma, the bellbugled choral purification
that twists the gut with blood & stones. to be alone in a

body like that, like i am, could be so much more kind if
you took care of it all. being my liver and keeping me afloat,
taking care of the arrangements, the liver-equivalent of
booking flights and hotels and buying balloons and spiking
the punch. if you could tuck yourself into me like an animal
discovers the hollow in a tree, if you could come to me as

raindoused and willow-weeping and moonburnt and nosebloodied
as i am, if you could become part of the maliferous mass;
the thing i can’t destroy without taking me with it; the

body. if you could fasten yourself
to me, be my liver, be my lover,
there would be nothing to fear
as the eagle fell upon us,
dolldraped and silent,
bound to the rock.

3.

silver-sheathed, crown-wreathed, mud-mucked;
the epithets of womanhood as earthen and unaware
as the unconscious grace shed upon your head.
you:

pandora, the all-giving, made as punishment;
you, who takes from below and lifts it above yourself
and the pithos bottled and brilliant in your chosen
bridegroom’s foyer. you are a new thing altogether,
fascinated by movement and voice, dust pressed between
your heels and the dirt road like roses, how you thought
you were one person until he fell upon your body like

a vulture, the vertigo of skinny dipping in the lilypadded
pond, the incongruous softness of skin pulled canvas-taut
over sternum and collar and rib, the searching smell of
thyme and magnolia stopping you as if they said your name.

you, pandora, with a pithos and the gathering accumulated
missteps; the things you took and lied about because they
make you feel safe and you don’t want him to know you feel
vulnerable, how he is lavish with touch and that pleased you,

how you are learning there
is more than touch, how
you want that, too. you,

pandora, wanting more
than what’s offered,
wanting more than only
what you are given. you,

pandora, open
the box.

 

Hannah Hamilton is a poor college student studying literature in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who has a beautiful close-knit family and a lot of things to do before it’s time for her to hop on Charon’s ferry and hightail it down the River Acheron.

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