Spoiling: a Triptych
Beauty spoils the Rubble
Silk, jeweled kaleidoscope dense with dew
glints between corroded brick walls
glistens its mist among the rubble.
Among ruins, the spider
slides a mucus-slick dinner
into his mouth: his spoils.
The moth’s struggling wings
brush on a macabre lipstick.
Mosquito’s spindly legs—rapturous.
Common fly, rich with nutrients.
Spider: spoiled and gorged.
Spoiled and Gorged
All at once, everything.
The meat and veg.
He begs for nothing.
He seizes his spoils
in a dominion of ruins.
It is yours, Spider, all of it.
This is what our war offers you:
skeletons on the countryside;
walls, molded and folding in
on themselves. Those are yours.
And the vines, that sweet meat.
Brag of it.
Don’t Wake Me
Often, I dream of a myriad-roomed, ramshackled house.
Spiral stairways with no endings. Clutter end over end.
Hallways, mossed with mildew. And always,
a zombie groaning amidst the litter of laundry.
Then you. Gnawing at my neck. No, wait. Kissing it.
me. Pretend I’m
me so I’m capable of love
quickly. My wind-
whipped dress, tendrils of silk.
When the twirling ends, kiss, spin me
He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. . . . you have lacked nothing.
- Deuteronomy 2:7 (NKJV)
Hungry. Mouth filled with tasteless
dust-crusted manna. What God
would spill us into this heavy desert?
Mother loathes my surly words. She
molds manna into loaves: we eat
them all, lest they curdle. What God
would lead then leave us?
If we suffer, she says, we will surely live.
My tears puddle. Not enough
to change the sand.
So long under the sun, I am speechless.
Shawled, weak, needful. I starve myself
of God. He is insufferable in this heat:
a weighted woolen blanket heaped over
my crowded heart. The murmur, the chatter—
constant grumbling of the desert-claimed—
it drives me mad. My knees give way.
If I die dust-spun who will remember
I succumbed to hunger with my stomach full?
I crowd the altar, cry: alter me.
There must be more than this cursing,
this heat, this bitter weeping. I scrawl,
rescrawl His name in the sand.
Skin of my fingers raws red, draws
bloodlines. I have been insufferable:
a broken cistern. I am a basket, splintered.
He was, is beside me. Unweaving. Reweaving.
On my tongue, praise: spill of joy, moist fruit
in my parched mouth. Forty years I stumbled
over claiming Yes. Grumbled starve-hearted,
undisciplined, disciple of myself. And ruin.
Sand gruffed my throat, stippled the moss
of my voice; today my love song
scratches out, and out
"The Between Spaces" - Ellen Langford
Michelle McMillan-Holifield is a recent Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work has been included in or is forthcoming in Boxcar Poetry Review, Jabberwock Review, Sky Island Journal, Sleet Magazine, Stirring, The Collagist, Toasted Cheese, Whale Road Review, and Windhover, among others. She hopes you one day find her poetry tacked to a tree somewhere in the Alaskan Wild.