Darla Mottram is a soon-to-be graduate of Marylhurst University. Her work has
recently been featured in NAILED Magazine, among others, and is forthcoming at
The Birds We Piled Loosely. She is a co-founder of the social practice project Put-
Pockets, a blog that documents creative ways of putting poetry into the world.
Standing motionless in the hours whispered before dawn, you are looking at yourself except you don't look like you; you are looking at yourself except what you see is strange, ceremonious, sacrament; you are looking at yourself except you're not because the thing doing the looking is no longer itself, is changed in the act of seeing, is changed into the thing seen, is itself seen, then forgotten, remembered later on as something foreign to itself, like amber carrying with it the memory of a tree to which it bears no resemblance, yet somehow still contains.
You keep finding dead bees on the sidewalk. Their stingers stuck somewhere far from where you stand, you're surprised to discover them still quite capable of inflicting a subtle damage, a kind of reverse sting: the spiny point has been lodged inside all along, it only took a tiny death to extract it, to pull the swivel backward, to percolate midnight's pain through morning's pores. The cruel thing isn't the remembering, but the way you collect bowls of stingers to take home for breakfast. They poke new holes in your throat on their way down, sore and pink and bleeding. You still count this as success.
Lean in close to a wall of barnacles and you'll hear a chorus of voices murmuring: careful where you lay your incendiary hands. You won't live without damaging but you might learn to break bread with a shadow of something bigger than yourself. The ocean will swallow your spit but it won't give back forgiveness. Stop hawking up your yesterdays and you might find something other than salt to offer the sea.
You had a dream I was a dragon, snapping and thrashing through the house. My eyes were the tips of two volcanoes glowing with a promise you knew I'd keep. You watched your reflection in them, picking its way down through the woods and fleeing goats, a crown of tiny birds circling its head. Your reflection looked up in time to see your face shimmering in the sky of my left pupil, a star-pattern of shock, and then everything went red. The sky was red. My eye was red. Your reflection was red. I saw red. The dragon was red. There was no dragon.
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