Rusty Morrison

“as if imagining her thinking about me makes me real” (1)

on the blameless cutting board with my blameless knife
I slice my thumb by accident

accident is mythic instruction
submerged beneath its bandage

throbbing in an idiom of flow
through the verb-form of pain

memory arrives
by accident

encouraging seepage
over a period of days

bones dried for divination
can be ground to a fine powder and swallowed

only after they are unearthed
I’ve left my best red sable brush

thick with oil paint on its wooden palette
at an angle of unfinished conversation

as to whether the face I’ve composed
is finished or not

“as if imagining her thinking about me makes me real” (2)

I’ve lost my best shirt in the dark that should be a closet
built for safekeeping

my best shirt hangs in the distance that my reach to find it will miss
worse each time I try

my body wears a rippling skin that I’d like covered up
each ripple further eroding my body’s shape

at a speed I believe would rival the 1,669-kilometer per hour spinning
of the earth

my best shirt has a finely-detailed repeating lithograph of a fish
on a shirt the lack of change in a pattern is not denial

no fish attempts to swim away from background’s blue-green taunting
resemblance to ocean’s fluid element

“as if imagining her thinking about me makes me real” (3)

blood from a fresh wound is so loudly incognito
opening its storefront

in its window an enticing tableau of red hues
eye-catching anti-narratives

of inner body’s fluidity exposed
arranged to seem devoid of implication or cause

no mother in blood’s display of nothing

across the street from its storefront the cemetery
has discounted angel sculptures

next door there are patient mothers in line at the butcher shop
ready to argue the price of fresh meat

the main street pretends three-point perspective’s endlessness
but its vanishing point is closer than it seems

in a town more real than any feeling I’ve told myself I have
for a mother

for a color I say violet if I’m asked which
I prefer

I don’t believe anyone has a favorite to begin with
or a memory to trust

“as if imagining her thinking about me makes me real” (4)

I go back to bed with my collection of feathers
found unexpectedly which is the way luck finds someone

a slight shift in existence at eye’s corner
gives desire a hue and shape

so easily missed in the concrete sameness
of sidewalk’s pavement

a throat can be brushed gently dialectic
with a feather

found outside
all the beginnings and ends as I’ve written them

“as if imagining her thinking about me makes me real” (5)

cut with a haphazard scissor-stroke
my braid falls aimless to the floor

but aim isn’t necessarily visible
as it allies with gravity

watch long enough to find
that each thing lands

on the ground that sustains
the myth I’ve made of it

flicked off this keyboard with my fingernail
the body of an ant flies into the air

then another but not the third
that one I let travel the screen of my laptop

and disappear from sight
I must be mother even to my violence

as gravity bides its time
a wound closes itself from the inside out

proving that it too
is moving in the direction of escape

Note: the title of each of these poems
is a quote from Mei-mei Berssenbrugge (Nest, p 53)
Rusty Morrison‘s poems recently appeared in Colorado Review, Fence, Iowa Review; creative nonfiction at Entropy, Harriet. Her five books include After Urgency (Tupelo’s Dorset Prize) and the true keeps calm biding its story (Ahsahta’s Sawtooth Prize, Academy of American Poet’s James Laughlin, Northern California Book Award, & PSA’s DiCastagnola Award). Her recent Beyond the Chainlink (Ahsahta) was finalist for NCIB Award & NCB Award in Poetry). She’s been co-publisher of Omnidawn since 2001.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.

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