- Self-Portrait as Pyrocumulonimbus, and: Driving Up-Canyon With My Two Teen Sons
Self-Portrait as Pyrocumulonimbus
Don't ask me why men want from this peculiar pulse, skipping cul-de-sacs & riverbeds. I eat like a woman
ravenous until the forest is a field standing black with javelins. I catapultinto clear sky. Because God loosed me
from that better wound, braiding anger up my spine, & between ground & cloud bellowed the flame, they crave.
They say destruction as if they don't want to follow. Don't study how I hoverabove them, cracking my ribs apart,
peeling lightning from my thighs. They pray for my unruly heart, may it be their weapon. They misunderstand. My desire
is air, threading vengeance into the dress I'd wear if I wokeeach morning in a bed half slept in,
but I don't sleep. I wander. I err. I lunge into ductwork & become the bedroom, the porch swing, the yellow grass
around the concrete deer. I keep hoping for a day when burn won't breedash, & we can return home, devoured [End Page 42]
by hunger neither mine nor theirs, but fear unleashed refuses the chain. The fruit is my miracle is my palm is my water
effacing the blaze. I would surrender my mouth to rain if they didn't beg from methe bite-bruise on both shoulders again, again. [End Page 43]
Driving Up-Canyon With My Two Teen Sons
Lisa Fay Coutley
or Boys I & II as I've come to call them (or swear at them) this year, laying the fencework of broken bottles all around me, even now, as we push
faster up a blinding canyon road. Look, boys, here even crag reaches straight for the sun (& I can't help but tell them we each want to burn);
look at how the aspens stand together from one, long root, but they'll never touch each other above ground; look at the single spruce
that grew back-against-a-cliff-wall, facing only road (as I'm speeding up a lane that snakes to nowhere I can see). This, you'll never understand.
Like the way I arrange sunflowers on the coffee table in our new home. Have you noticed how they reach for sun or soil, where there's only ceiling,
only vase. This, kids, is the year we'll write our history of black ice & snow. Here, each of you hold a wiper blade, & I'll accelerate, eyes closed. [End Page 44]
Lisa Fay Coutley is the author of In the Carnival of Breathing, winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition (Black Lawrence Press, 2011) and Back-Talk, winner of the ROOMS Chapbook Contest (Articles Press, 2010). A doctoral fellow and poetry editor for Quarterly West at the University of Utah, she has been awarded scholarships to the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers' Conferences, an Academy of American Poets' 2012 Larry Levis Prize, chosen by Dana Levin, and her recent poems appear in Seneca Review, Third Coast, The Journal, Hayden's Ferry Review, Best New Poets, and on Verse Daily.