Three Prose Poems

Amy Pence 


You said bears walk in the wealthy hamlet of Aspen  .  don’t we say lumber when it comes to bears?
the verb itself the journey we imagine the bear encounters in the topographical skull of its bigger
mind .     a man sits on his back deck to cough up his smoker’s phlegm near dawn . a wracking sound
shudders across backyards . obscures the sonorous buzzing I’ve grown accustomed to  :  insects sheathe
the morning in their bugginess . like so many jewels, birds will join in, start with a few calls :  a warble,
then a chirrup enlarges to a syntax supple with sound .   I will not call them plaintive or enchanted . no
ideas to attach them to . though our mouths may turn lonely in the flush morning of our greed .    I rose
at midnight from the bed where we once lay . or is it laid ?  my grammar sticky . our lies having reclined
all around us  . through the open door a fox without an adjective appeared one night .   my same wildness
staring back .   in the end, you did not lumber away . in the creaturely grammar of this world, a fox has fleet
feet . a silvered pelt .  your light feet fox-turning you sheer as dream .     everything about us instantaneous .
we are immense .      without cause & often ineffectual .       the hide of who we are disappearing .        only
ourselves in the skin of the beloved .


These bones through which you enter the inert long ago .  on the trail, fox bones mistaken for
tinder . solitary & briny as the disarticulated sex in that far away Mykonos . rooftops edge the
seaside ridge like the knobs on a spine .  before we had gone there, did I really know you ?  your
face murky, unclear .  further uphill, possum bones  :  a tail like pink eraser heads being steered
by a thin trace of carrion beetles . time-lapsed in the shifting late August grass .  what can I  say
about the big picture  ?  a hollow distance opened between us .    my memory of the smells like bad
patchouli .  once we got to Santorini, you were dissatisfied   .   wondered aloud if we’d made a mistake .
underground in the ruins of Akrotiri,  we saw the first aqueducts  .  some night terror throttled through
my body leaving me off at the ground floor  .  your back solid, turned away . tourists thronged on the
volcanic ash beaches, mostly nude  .  a portly German went crustacean-pink   .   read a book standing up,
his small member shaded by his belly  .  he aimed himself, shadow lengthening, lapping the edges of our
betrothal  .  I crossed my arms over my breasts in the photograph you took, a Cycladic figurine .  feeling
fat though I was small then too  .  I fail now to remember all the bodies I have occupied  .  under leaf-mold,
bird bones as if immolated  .  in a  past life regression I was a citizen of Akrotiri, stood phallus-proud on the
shore  .  filled the stone house of my marriage with the kind of mind-fuck you did for our next ten years  .  in
Paros, you walked off angry . left me for three days alone . did I long for you  ? no .  I hiked the white-ribbed
landscape in  wonder  .  in Delphi, the gold-pressed minotaur was found a century later under paving stones .
I knelt at roadside shrines, salt on my lips .  I stop now on the trail .     bend once again to  look at these small
theaters  .  the body’s diorama  :  our alienating and plush insides  .  we said we loved each other once .  then
became strangers again .


Fathers die, & mothers .  sometimes before they are ready .  usually before we are .  your mother
at 85 .  my father at 58 .  sometimes dark matter tumbles down sky-worn, imitating clouds . the
stitchery where trees once were . graves open and release the owls we have forgotten . train cars
pitch forward . carry the human faces, blank and blinking . overhead, planes hold humans upright
in seats as we spool through the past .  homebound to Hartsfield an image floats piecemeal from
the mind bin : how my father holds his limbs so still sitting next to me .  doesn’t know exactly what
my boyfriend had just done . or why I called him .  bruises must be gathering at my neck . plush
majestic peonies : a palimpsest or a grim joke,  a choker .  my boyfriend held me down so long
myopic stars exploded in the dark universe of mind . on the back-stoop, I don’t invite my father
in . his eyes saturate with blue . didn’t I dream my father years after he died ?  the two of us flat out
on a field of grass next to the train tracks . trains dopplering past our bodies . our mouths open to
laugh into a pulsating rain .   we laughed so hard we merged  .    trains float and pitch over every
inviolable wonder .         we travel towards it  .


Amy Pence authored the chapbook Skin’s Dark Night as well as three collections: The Decadent Lovely; Armor, Amour; and the just-released hybrid book on Emily Dickinson, [It] Incandescent (from Ninebark Press). She lives in Atlanta.  Links to other works can be found at

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