The Nature of Shelter

Brenda Shaughnessy

Humans need shelter and space—

but beauty eyes space for itself. Air

is a medium,

a mere translator

a mule—predetermined life

as carrier

unto Death.

I want molecules upon molecules

to ebb out my eyes and enter

my mouth,

are you molecules?

Do you dare smoke

in winter

for the sex air?

Soliloquy has it out for me, handling

inner space like an amphitheater

of all middle seats.

Can’t hear myself?

Or can’t remember?

Or forgot I heard.

I followed you, hem and whisker

on fire to the fire.

Home was a blister rubbed open

& looking burnt,

nervous flesh

every day, left out.

The branch will hold, my shelter

and the false animal everywhere

cracks an egg on the sidewalk

just to see it

become itself as if

under another sun.

Traveling to a new home painted

shell pink, god’s membrane,

filthy memory, release me:

shed from my meat—

I’ll fill every wave.

Brenda Shaughnessy is the author of six poetry collections, including Tanya and The Octopus Museum. The recipient of awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute, and elsewhere, she teaches at Rutgers University-Newark.
Originally published:
September 18, 2023


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