A Necklace of Tongues

Ekphrastic Poetry

All morning she sits
stitching a necklace of tongues
in her high window,
picking each inert slab

from the shallow porcelain dish
holding its brass-cold weight
muted as a muffled bell,
heavy in the dip of her open palm.

Last night snowflakes
melted like kisses,
like salt
on their warm skin,

now her silver needle
pushes through the thick-muscled
root trussing
each glossal silence

with meticulous petit point.
If a worm has five hearts
and an angel none,
how many tongues

does it take to tell lies
about love?
But for now she can only wait,
passing the leaden hour

with herringbone and cross-stitch.
Later, in front of her mirror of ice
she will lift the cold carrion
like a queen’s fringed torque,

place it in the soft dip
at the base of her throat,
making visible the muted words,
that wounded song of herself.

From Ghost Station
Published by saltpublishing 2004


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