Two poems – Nixi Schroeder

Nixi Schroeder

Meditations on a Minnesota Swamp

Here
implies a presentness which isn’t —
the white hands of water lily anemones
wiggling against the canoe’s belly. My father in his flypaper hat
calls it a terrestrial reef, the underwater but unaquatic
sky algae-frothed. Below our ripples
sunfish armoured in rosegarden pebbles, their goldenrod undersides soft and edible,
mosquito pupae, tight and wriggling like Frankenstein’s commas,
sparrows you could catch like starfish,
tie around your neck,
and slip into your ribcage’s pockets
still piping.

Here,
between the outhouse and the wood stove–
we’re having rain for dinner, tonight
we’re having sky for dinner, tonight
we’re having chicken necks and sparkly plastic worms:
load up the boat and we’ll catch love in the morning.

there
the truck stops taste like ash and the cigarettes taste like god, my grandfather’s pipe a sooty folk
messiah, and in the Indian
casino, they serve red beer the flavor of dust,
watching their coral marrow bleach
with caged eyes.
the swamp is a mini mall, now, there,
the sunfish truckers and the sparrows capitalists, there, the
water browning to sand and the sand to asphalt.

Here,
we excavate the boat and
fish for fresh mantras along the shoreline.
aum aum, a motor’s vibrations. We
bail out the bilge of obituaries.
Nothing’s changing.

Living with Depression

And I should have asked you to roll up your sleeves,
drawn cartoons in black pen between the lines
stick figure superheroes in a red and white world
guarding blue cargo
from biting silver sharks.

And I should have cooked you quesadillas
the nights you drifted home from therapy
cobwebs in your eyes like
lacework, fading.

And I should have gone to your door
on the nights when your tears added stars to the sky
and sat outside
and played old records
gathered droplets from your cheeks and hung them as beads
in strings from the ceiling as
fresh constellations.

You always loved stargazing

And when you packed your boxes, your face
more sky than sun,
I should have slipped notes into all your old books
photographs into
your half-empty pill bottles,
tied soft ribbons around your therapy journals,
painted your fingernails
neon candy lacquers.

I could have given you brightness.

I could have peeled apart your ribcage
and sutured in fireflies
and pressed it into your arteries, planted
dug the sun out from my tongue
planets in your veins
to prevent future bleeding.

Now I stand
constellations ready in my hands
and offer them up
to the sky
you left empty.

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