— after Lisa Robertson
It was dark underground
I resolved to surface with my spine
The quarry was full of minerals
Some were speckled and magnificent
Some were bridled and dear, some lightly crumbling
Some were reflective
Some oblique and solid
Some were replaceable
Some like hot ash
Some were covert, cool and oxidized
Some liked to hear the echo
Some winced when pulled
Some fieldspar, galena, apatite
Some slick and full of grooves
Some knobbed tightly then looser
Some were set in their jaw, quick to anger and so on.
It was dark underground and I pressed the walls for purchase
It was pleasing to mistake the earth for an extraction
It was pleasing to drill down
Rialf Bialla, gloved,
through three panes of glass
with steel teeth
caught a bullet 3,000 times,
living target with minor injuries
as compared to death.
Dorothy Deitrich with a cup of
alloy in her mouth, tested.
How to survive trauma:
distractions, learning to catch
a slug and not get shot means
bracing for it.
Get out of the magic:
you who are always
burning. While sleight
of hand may lure admirers, who
to float you through the night
surrounded as you are by hours.
Although the eyes gather
every clue, could strip
a trick bare of conjure,
the brain can hold only
one attention at a time
Bless my proper aim.
Meaning to Ask
about Loon Lake, grandma Gertrude, and The Young Pioneers
about fertility at 38
about generation trauma, studies, Hongerwinter etc.
about smart phone stoplight Googling: fertility and alcohol, fertility and exercise
about dogs/dog tracks
about a real human skull (oops) in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History
about the soul, Alexander Graham Bell’s tetrahedral kites, about fostering, about early belief that a menstruating woman could kill a swarm of bees
about Jamie Reminder before he died in second grade
did he follow me or was it a love note? I recall a faucet
how long did I eat elementary lunch on a toilet before someone intervened
about Bernadette —about Fatima —about Celeste—about early indications
the efficacy of lists?
the efficacy of revision?
fertility and cocaine use during one’s 20s
about washed vs. unwashed sperm samples
my grandfather’s abuse of my mother my aunt my uncle my uncle the Finns, communism, gypsies—about truth about gambling
about truth in gambling, fertility and sleep aids about early belief that masturbation led women to flat-chestedness
my father’s other daughter adopted
about winning rummy to earn allowance (on hustle, on parenting dos/don’ts)
fertility and caffeine
23 and me? Ashkenazi or no? Mindell from Mendelson?
about desert, about saunas and birch
about best greyhounds to win, place, or show: Titan, Asteria, Eros, Goliath
Rachel Mindell is the author of Like a Teardrop and a Bullet (Dancing Girl Press) and rib and instep: honey (forthcoming from above/ground). Individual poems have appeared (or will) in Pool, DIAGRAM, Bombay Gin, BOAAT, Forklift, Ohio, The Journal, Sundog Lit and elsewhere. She works for Submittable.
More from Vol. 34, Issue 4
Anna Akhmatova, trans. Donald Mager