3 Poems — Amorak Huey
ROSE RED TRIES TO REMEMBER A TIME BEFORE WINTER
Winter began the first time I lied to my mother.
The first night I pretended to sleep
as my sister sneaked out,
the first morning I let the bear
come in to get warm by the fire.
Ice wants what it wants.
I shovel. I bury. I drift
and still winter works its cold tongue
under my collar, still my skin
is electricity and rupture
and truth is unsympathetic and wet.
My sister sings confidently of blood
but I cannot find the word for thaw.
The bear mentions enemies and stolen treasure,
and I begin to carry scissors.
I bury. I drift. I shovel
until every path is clear and still no one
is grateful. My mother dies each day,
my sister promises the season will change,
the bear sleeps, petals grow restless under snow.
Marriage isn’t the same as a happy ending,
hunger cannot be swallowed by beauty.
I drift. I shovel. I bury.
LAMENT FOR LIGHTNING AND MIGRATORY BIRDS
I’ll follow you into the undergrowth at the edge of the yard. Wait until the storms pass. Watch for signs of change.
Evolution is hard to see up close; the body is a poor judge of itself. Desire is cheap because it’s plentiful. Still, sometimes all I want in the world is your hand on mine.
Let us hide together under a pile of sticks. This is no kind of home.
The rain. The thunder. We are not yet strong enough for this weather we have chosen. Escape, the only option. Start again, elsewhere.
Our future selves will grow wings. Our future selves’ future selves will learn to use them. Will fly to milder clime. This is how it works.
THE STEPSISTER’S LAMENT
All I ever wanted was a pretty dress and someone’s fingers in my mouth. I thought if I removed the right parts of myself I could live up to the world’s demands. Pay the asked price. But blood pools and betrays, and I was always going to be someone else’s cautionary tale. I can speak of splendor as if my eyes had not been pecked out by doves. I can speak of escape as if the path were open. I can speak of the past as if my scars did not feel like strips of bark curling under my fingertips. As if I had not memorized how many steps from my front door to the church, to the well, to the butcher’s shop where three skinned foxes hang in the window. Every story has many versions. You will know which ones are true when you forget the difference between cruelty and beauty.
Amorak Huey, a former newspaper editor and reporter, is author of the poetry collection Ha Ha Ha Thump (Sundress, 2015) and the chapbooks The Insomniac Circus (Hyacinth Girl, 2014) and A Map of the Farm Three Miles from the End of Happy Hollow Road (Porkbelly, 2016). He teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. His poems appear in The Best American Poetry 2012, The Southern Review, The Collagist, Ninth Letter, Booth, and elsewhere.