Ashley Toliver | Poetry

Poem: From "Ideal Machine"

here is where I take you                behind the eyes
a glistening star
here is where I take you    
                                                       bone-thing I made
a gift                                                              pull it out
                       star in me             salt bright and still
how the cut is made

                   across my face could move any feeling

sear of the interior                 

here is the site I’ve dog-eared for you

                        taut as any waiting
my sudden fold of luck     
                                                        pinched lightning
we can’t put our hands on but you do

my brain arriving through the darkness
                 like streets mapping out      

this mine                   this mine                  this mine


in future rites                                            I lay down
                                                on the operating table

glassy and overdue
the surgeons                                 take roll in choirs 

hands like night swimmers
                                              badwater below the sea

under lightest implication 
          the body breaks through

under lightest implication

the crocus push 
                         through peat as a gesture for belief

hourglass and tulle

meadow sharpened to blade

            on the last day the light
                                               so easy to breathe

hustle star

                                   weaving the darkness around

a little let on the line   and
faces go under


                                                                      a long way

dear optic nerve
you flatten like copper tilled wide
                                               against the tracks

I want to show you how light scatters
my daughter’s bedroom                              her face
                                                           into unknowing 

dear optic nerve                       dear crushed penny

in the dark I watch explosions
                                    axons firing like mortars       
                                                        I count them

low-hanging fireworks

                                                           gristle and verve             

I press my face to the glass


dear ophthalmologist
your hands wag the story I cleave to

                                            on either side of my face
wave fingers                          ask me to count them

dear ophthalmologist 
                        I am not very good at telling stories

how your hands muscle the black

                                               pin-pricks in the paper
how the dark                        whistles around them

day      a dumb animal 
                                         limping through the grass


from the observation wing                 we can see it
                                                                gathering size  

slow and sensate       
I enter the machine           like a lover’s black silk 

my astronomer
flicking on all the lights

                                  meat of the mind

he points to where the shine 
                                               breaks open from seed

     hustle star
                                                              star in me

the bone    there anatomical                 then moth

O don’t we all saunter in       innocently enough
like love    an uppercase L love

stamen eye      you metastasize        

                                           my sea glass    my meteor

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Jobs | June 02