from The Brain Letters
by Sarah Fox

Printer-friendly version


Raccoon midwifed the baby from the eye
of the firepit, headfirst bloomed through
white ash into flame. Raccoon reached
in, trowel-handed like a forceps.
The fire attracts into itself like a mirror,
beings—their faces—fall into and rise from it.
The baby is an ambassador for all the dead
babies. He’s char-dusted, the birth muck
melded to him. Surgeon-faced,
raccoon sets the baby to cool on a pit
rock, steals off to pick and teethe the placenta.
I look at my baby boy on the rock.
He had been immaterial to me,
like a god, like a disease. The others and he
are the same one. I crave him, dead or alive.


I drownproofed myself and the dead
babies with shriek vests and we set
off across the lake on our raft towards
another shore whose inhabitants might
welcome us. We were transfigurational
pilgrims, the water re-shaped us and
we knew that the lake was merely
the surface of our dream, like the raft
was just a borrowed womb the babies
couldn’t leak through. A clergy of crows
cropped up as a magnetic chorus on
the horizon. I grew fins and amped up
our destiny. I was willing to submit
to the crows’ reconfigurement, become
beak-scarred, learn to speak out from
the dungeon where I hoard all my skulls. 

St. Blake baby projects a dream onto the atmosphere
as evidence that life once flickered within him. The
dream is a film I enter as a second mother through
forest to clearing where I find a boy pulling
an object out of a lake. The boy tells me in our secret
language that the object is a postcard on which a
morphing mouth screams. I believe the boy
is frightened as I am frightened of the boy
and his prophetic debris. But I am his mother.
Let us peer into the mouth together, but the mouth
is now a vase—half gray, half red—and we understand
that in it loiters the essence of a child. The vase
at times vaguely resembles a human face,
it keeps changing and makes the boy laugh, now.
We drop the vase back into the lake.
The lake is my belly. I want the scream back.
I Slid Out of My Mother’s Body 

Of being numinous. Of drift and syringe.
Of metal atonement. Of a tube-fed
melancholy. Of post-terror karmic.
Of a certain amount of ear. Of the smog
smear around the blood hollow. Of the
ossified berry like a cave cataract. Of
my mind branched out through the fontanel,
antlering, leaves letting go of me. 

I began to notice the quality of song
glass makes metabolizing. I began
to fuse what was left of my body
to this noise whose shape resembled
what I knew of jaguars. My jaguar
was a hypnotist who proposed
a paradise where the scalpel-minded
king lived down in the wellhole.
My jaguar opened his mouth
and produced a horse for my climb.
He pointed one way, then another.
He said, “Do not try to force your horse
up slopes like this one. It is bad
for you and your horse.”  My jaguar
is a hypnotist of the first magnitude.
I will miss his glass-furred music. 
The Other Husband 

I shook my chain on the bridge of sighs
where bog meets bramble and the sound
made a rupture in the mist: diaphanous
aperture that quickly filled with loose
shadow matter other creatures had shed
into the moss weeps. Thus enchanted,
a form materialized and wooed me. He
inhabits, at times, your own darkened
reflection and even your face. He’s
like a caul; I taste his peat on your lips.
He contributes his mass to all
the grounddusk shapes in my sphere
and over any lightless surface
that might lean in to meet my
encounter. I thought he rose up
only to haunt me and to pursue
a subsistence off the dregs
of my affection. Then I noticed
the pricks on my fingers from
the needle I’d used to stitch him in.
He will run, and disappear. 

Raccoon hurls herself into the vault
of prayer. She is predynastic and
evanescent in corpse oratory. Cradle
mortis pulpit, a heart-sized sacrifice
for the gnashing hoards of like-faced
philanderers. Sprawled like a whore,
raccoon’s burn drizzle licks open
each word’s germ box. The children
vacantly wander like deaf flottage. 

I was walking under some noisy trees.
The trees had panther breath and teeth
at my back. My hair seemed to be on fire.
The trees hungered. They were flame-eating
panthers. I was walking under a green
cloud shaped like the mother of all
insects. The cloud bulged and churned
with the sentient residue of history.
She refused any longer to contain
it. The mother of all insects
would soon release newly gestated
monsters into the atmosphere.
The panthers hissed. I was nervous.
My thoughts rioted like dark
birds trapped in the branches. I
darkened down into the mindshaft.