the number of clouds
where does the sky / where does the water go / i think
i thought i saw / a flutter of black wings / how soon
will birds depart / arrive / leave me to decipher
their strategies / in shades of blue grey / grades of ink
against the out- / line of the sky / a tree or two
or more / i am the whole the part / i am the plus
and the minus / the number of / ripples timed by
the number of the clouds
Lorelei Bacht is a European-citizen-of-nowhere-turned-poet, now living in Asia. Her daily jobs include mothering, educating, collecting bones and failing scientific experiments. Her recent poetic work has appeared and/or is forthcoming in Visitant, Quail Bell, The Wondrous Real, Not Deer Magazine, SWWIM, Abridged and Odd Magazine. She is also on Instagram: @lorelei.bacht.writer and @the.cheated.wife.writes – and on Twitter: @bachtlorelei.
Does Anyone Ever Say Love Struck Them Like a Meteor?
Odessa Meteor Crater, Texas
They should. The limestone
from deep beneath is pushed to the surface.
And if that seems romantic, it’s not.
a meteor hits, it makes a flour as fine as talcum powder.
You could cover your face in it and perhaps
disappear into your lover. It only happens
at the crater and sand grains shatter
so fine they are microscopic. They remain
underneath unless we excavate.
I had a teacher
who said it wasn’t good for older women to dig
into their pasts, that what we needed to do was live our lives
forward. Once you dig, it’s hard to cover all the holes.
At the crater,
there is a chain link fence around the bore hole. Maybe
love is there, if you dig deep enough. Certainly, all the places
where you were not loved exist in the shaft
after impact. In Odessa, where there’s a crater
you can walk on, they never found the meteorite. They searched
beyond the silt, beyond the flour, beyond the limestone,
deeper than they imagined it could be and never found evidence
of space, all they could see was the depression, not so deep
as it had once been but deep enough
to know that something had been here, including
possibly a mastodon standing in just that spot
when the meteor hit, its tooth the only thing left.
The Questions I Ask My Future Love
Big Bend National Park, Texas
I ask my future love whether he would prefer binoculars
or a magnifying glass. I ask him to explain. I ask
my future love what shoes he would prefer for walking
up my walls or hanging from my ceiling. I ask him if
he has two knees or only one, I ask him
where it hurts. I ask him how close to the next
named city I am. I ask my future lover where he would go
if he had the chance, into my head, into my
heart, or into deeper parts. I ask
my future lover if he knows what it means when I say
that I’m not clean. I ask my future lover what kind
of vacuum he has. I ask him if his ceilings are still
white. I ask him when he last dusted the blades
of his bathroom fan. I ask if he is wearing clean winding sheets.
Lower Calf Creek Falls, Utah
The skin above where my children
were dragged from me
folds over that line where they opened my womb
to save my life. It hangs below the pubis and when I look
in the mirror sometimes, I wonder
if it would be better to be fat, belly expanding in tympanic
tautness, shiny with scars I’ve put there, but when I pass
the waterpocket fold on a hike and see how water hollows
the stone, how even the indestructible hangs limp over
a void. I touch my belly, picture my children, how
I could not make a shell of myself.
Even the larvae of bugs we thought slept
underground have been awake, feeding on roots
and tree fluids.
I’m letting go this shield. I picture
cicadas crawling from sticky exoskeletons. They climb trees
to find mates, leave ghost forms, thin as rice paper,
to dance empty on the shirts of girls like me. I know the equation,
butterfly equals transformation, but I was married
a long time. I think of cicadas, nearly two
decades underground. How when they emerge,
they find their voices, and then they find their wings.
When she’s home, Lori Anne Gravley lives with a variety of stringed instruments and a Papillon in a 1963 Avion Travel Trailer. When she’s not at home, she lives in a van and stops to hike whenever she can. These poems were written on a voice recorder during those hikes. They are from her newest work in progress, a chapbook: “This Poem Started with a Bird.” You can find out more about her work at www.loriannegravley.com. Or you can follow her hikes and other wanderings on Instagram @lorigravley.