You painted me in shadowy
stripes of your choosing, iron bars
that stung my fingers and tongue
up my beams of gold.
I remember playing
with loose beads of mercury.
sleepwalking. falling out of bed.
talking in my sleep.
I got up in the dark
and couldn’t find
the door. I traced back to my bed
and hid under the sheets. Did I break
the thermometer? I don’t remember,
but I kind of hope I did.
Cover art: “Hydroplaning 2” by Siri Stensberg
Daughter Mined With Mercury was selected as the 2021 Blood Orange Review Poetry Contest Winner by Luther Hughes. Luther wrote the following about the poem:
This poem draws me in to say the least. As I begin, I start wonder what’s happening and am curious where the poem wants to take me. There are “shadowy bars,” and the speaker is/has “beams of gold.” Questions begin, but because the poem is directed at someone, the speaker proves, somewhat, trustworthy. As the poem continues with memory, I find myself a little more curious, yes, but now I’m wondering where the poem’s end is or what the poem is “about.” At this point, the poem mimics me—“ I got up in the dark / and couldn’t find / the door.” It’s as if, I, too, was rummaging in the darks of this poem. The ending, though, is what perfects the magic of the poem. The speaker’s wandering and uneasiness of the poem ultimately ends with a sort of quiet desire for violence or chaos that is untraced or understood. How often are we sleepwalking or lost in memory or hiding under the sheets? I think this desire for break highlights how each of us need something to shake us a bit—we need something to wake us up.