Ceres in the Permafrost Thaw

Stunned, how I looked back
                                                      and saw myself living inside a pattern:
I tried to redeem men
                                                      with other men. What borehole.
What structural failure
                                                      on my end. What ice lens. After everything,
this is the state you wanted.
                                                      This is your world. 
I can’t deny I felt
                                                      cracks forming at the bog’s edge.
Stone rings shifted
                                                      the quilted ground in fine-grained,
porous whorls. Almost
                                                      beautiful if not for your palm
on my breath. Natural
                                                      repository for ancient life, unmapped
save for the geometry
                                                      of underground dens and burrows—
my protruding garden
                                                      is not for sale. Except for you,
postmodern opportunist 
                                                      who unearths my secrets for profit
in moist-wintered forests,
                                                      profit in continental shelves. 
Nowhere is safe from men
                                                      and their hands. Not riverbanks,
not coastlines, not history
                                                      of the body in decay. Extinction
can’t escape a gold rush.
                                                      I was foolish to think you’d leave me
when you left me. 
                                                      Where is my northerly island? 
Where can I vanish
                                                      from the mathematics of shame?
I have to believe I can 
                                                      rewrite this story from the ground up,
invent a new beginning  
                                                      no one’s heard before, neither spoken 
aloud nor written down.
                                                      Can you see all of me more clearly
this time? My weapons—
                                                      oh, my mouth’s full of them. What knives.

Cover Art by Stephanie Broussard

Anne Barngrover

Anne Barngrover’s most recent poetry collection, Brazen Creature, was published with The University of Akron Press in 2018 and was a finalist for the 2019 Ohioana Award for Poetry. She is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Saint Leo University, where she is on faculty in the low-residency MA program in Creative Writing, and lives in Tampa, Florida.

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