As She Wandered She Found Her Sea Legs by Lisa Richter

Poet name: Lisa Richter Poem Name: As She Wandered She Found Her Sea Legs Poem: I have wandered so much, beloved through strange and dark lives through hearts like wastelands be kind. –Anna Margolin, “I Have Wandered So Much” All day, the merciless rain, evaporating off pavement. Do you want me as a man, a woman, a faun, minotaur? I’m the wild boar prodding the soil with its grubby tusks. Chains of wildflowers chafe my wrists. Our bed is the sea, is a sand dune, a field of Elysian waves. I enter you, part your bearded thighs. Could your face be more flushed? Nobody touches me, no bruises on my apples. I hang my grief out to dry on the line. I have wandered so much, beloved, that stillness brings the wildest vertigo. The ocean swallows us whole. Today, another factory burns. Locked in, the workers (mostly women) pound the doors until they don’t. Are my poems the blood I let from my wounds or wounds themselves? By night, the stars divest me of pretence. In the bathhouse, our naked tongues unfurl Yiddish, German, Italian. Outside the Essex Street Market, dogs and young boys grapple for scraps. No pockmarks on the moon, but a lexicon of scars. I see you weaving in and out, my love, through strange and dark lives, through the countenance of kings sipping hemlock wine. No longer able to distinguish beggars from beguilers, I dream of horses stampeding under my skin, the apex of earthly bulbs, irrevocable as caves. Uptown rose gardens: villages of petals in drowsing scent. When I awake, my engorged throat rasps, a scourge of winter. Montparnasse, Montmartre: I slug memories straight from the bottle. Pigeon on my windowsill, orange jewel of its eye hooking into mine. I’ve done more than my share of paddling through hearts like wastelands. Fractured silence solicits migration. Some mistake me for a destitute baroness, others, a polyglot whore. Every poem I write is a crone’s epitaph. Rooted angel, I follow you into subterranean castles. Where are the sirens, the nymphs preening for imminent tempests? New York expands and contracts with my bewildered lungs. Velvet evenings in June, darkness anoints my hair with ink. I tuck myself not into bed but into sleep itself, where blue is the colour of shadows, admonishing: Be kind. End of Poem. Credits: Copyright © Lisa Richter Published in Nautilus and Bone (Frontenac House, 2020) Lisa Richter is the author of two books of poetry, Closer to Where We Began (Tightrope Books, 2017) and Nautilus and Bone (Frontenac House, 2020), winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Poetry and longlisted for the Raymond Souster Award. Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals, including The White Wall Review, The New Quarterly, CV2, The Malahat Review, EXILE Quarterly, and The Literary Review of Canada, as well as the anthologies Locations of Grief: An Emotional Geography (Wolsak & Wynn, 2020). She lives, writes, and teaches English as a Second Language in Toronto.