Poetry Archive

The Rotting Night

Night is a loosening plum.
The sky ripens itself
then drops to the ground.
I wear its thigh sheen,
a violet blubber.
Watch the regrowth into dawn,
air’s hard yellow fruit.
Every night adds.
I become a sealed animal,
rippling gazes toward high jewels.
Quiet. Do you hear my insides dissolve
as if meat were ice. Like eating plums,
air crashed against a tongue,
evaporating velvet, the blush-water taste.
Why have I been built wrong?
My insides have left me
or are hidden. Will shoveling release me?
I touch hard and then explode
like perfect dots of skin
wafting down from ears and needles.
I would like to shed all things that I touch,
starting with the doorknob floating
in my deep dumb cut. It twists open,
I don’t like it, how I move, a finger
from a stove. So I slough. All that slime
drips down, creating light and day. My filth
is a snowball made from shadows. I shine.
Can I pinch out a head and legs?
I can. I can make a ragdoll, a purple thing to love,
since humans drift away from me,
so sure of their magnetic skeletons,
how something will attach.
I’m not so sure, you crafted
and jointed old bugs,
you moon fragments in puppetry. I find
I don’t care and don’t know about most things.
Daughter, you will spend years
untangling purple knots, when truthfully
there is no pearl inside any gleaming shell.
So when someone decides to remove your head,
you’ll agree. You’ll decide that a calm body
is worth that toothless feeling, a bad flower yanked,
sudden nerves poking whitely from the stub.
You’ll be left with dead beginnings, no more heart
just part of all. You’ll accept the new head,
the new sifting, the desire for everything
you got rid of. You’ll walk lost, daughter,
but night breathes with you,
scouring old echoes.

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Filed under: Poetry Archive


Leanna Petronella’s (she/her) debut poetry collection, The Imaginary Age, won the 2018 Pleiades Press Editors Prize.  Her poetry appears in Beloit Poetry Journal, Third Coast, Birmingham Poetry Review, CutBank, Quarterly West, ElevenEleven, and other publications. She holds a PhD in English and Creative Writing from the University of Missouri and an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas. She lives in Austin, Texas.