Emily Carr

3 poems


however it began it ended like that. somewhere deep

in the Cartesian prairie, spring
is attempting herself. the sun peeling & pink.
cornfields & passions cast


their shadows. I had OD’d. our child had died. this
was happening in real time. like a tree falling

in the four dimensions.
if you dont you say. I will surely you say. it’s a flat, patient
Sunday & I am speechless, dreaming


you have made our decision. you are a child of trauma
&, I am learning, need something


to believe in. I am learning to love myself or,
more precisely, have learned to love myself in the decade
in which I have been married to you which


as it turns out will be the only married decade
of my life. on the horizon a thunderstorm gathers her
yellow & green. here where there is always 

a thunderstorm gathering. before I can be
someone else
I say. some gold & black birds flirt
over barbed wire, sing three uncorroded notes


to the sun, which is bathing your hair in the day’s last,
unsullied light. we watch the world turn,
starting over


what happens after STARTING OVER


the truth he says. anything but I say

the earth gives up her shadows & we are silent
& sundressed. between us sits a bowl

full of the fruits of life. we are arguing
with our backs to the sea. we

have been running out of words for days now,
here where the tide parcels up

the beach & the future sits down cross-legged,
for a tequila tonic. some seals bark

at the nothing the tide brings in. a hummingbird
rockets skyward. we are losing

our confidence in a future we can anticipate,

which is to say one of us is on the verge

of leaving the other but we are so close you can’t

tell which.


keep AWAY


a butterfly looking like an outstretched
hand with outspread fingers gathers

them together, flexes, releases
her transparent digits into an afternoon trembling

in the aftermath of a mid-June hailstorm.

in the beginning I say into a telephone I
have answered out of shock, fear, relief & some
other emotions that run too deep
to be named, we ignored
each other’s obvious                            flaws.

an out-of-tune Souza march parades
across the receiver. on the other end, a dogwood
describes herself to the sky

using leafy, amphibious gestures. the timeless
timber at the bottom of Lake Superior refuses her
appointment with death. even

when she is gone, the sun
chases her down. later on I say they became

so enormous we couldn’t see anything
. you light a handrolled cigarette—or, at least

I imagine you lighting a handrolled cigarette
while you try to find words not bred of victimhood,
or the marriage that did not,
in the end, last.

that’s because I say I was looking
for myself in all the wrong places
. a rainbow
dismembers & the sky drops low, fishing
for dusk. for years I have been proven

by this shame. for years I have written
through this shame, because if I cannot, as it
turns out,          live

beautifully then perhaps
I can turn my shame into something

beautiful: like a child or a mad woman,
ghosts run across the telephone wires. crocuses
glisten. the wind slapping the leaves

& a street dog whimpers back. you

are exhausted. I can hear it, now. somewhere

in the middle distances of the middle west,
your voice seeking order in the chaos

of possible accusation.

everything I did. everything
I did not do. everything we promised split, like
a wishbone. it is

some poets say, the act of the lyric
to construct one thing out of its response to

another. you have Collette says,
to get old. repeat the words, not as a howl
of despair but as the boarding call

to a necessary departure.

over my left shoulder, the earth is lonely, & feels
forgotten. somewhere inside
the dark & resilient forest body, the horizon
wanders through

an abandoned spiderweb.
this is, I think, us
for now. inheriting the consequences—

Emily Carr writes murder mysteries that turn into love poems that are sometimes (by her McSweeney’s editors, for example) called divorce poems. After she got an MFA in poetry from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, she took a doctorate in ecopoetics at the University of Calgary. These days, she’s the program director of the low-residency MFA in creative writing at Oregon State University-Cascades. Her newest book, Whosoever Has Let a Minotaur Enter Them, Or a Sonnet—, is available from McSweeney’s. It inspired a beer of the same name, now available at the Ale Apothecary. Emily’s first collection of fiction, Name Your Bird Without A Gun: a Tarot novella, is forthcoming from Spork in 2019. Visit Emily online at www.ifshedrawsadoor.com or on Instagram as ifshedrawsadoor.