The Poetry Project

Natalie Eilbert

Land of Sweet Waters

But the husband is an idea that occupies and tills the idea

until you are outside of it. And I wanted for so long to sing

an unlonely ode but the ode requires a centering, a centering

for which I am outside. Or I slept in the husband bed, or made

many men sing. But I come from land that meant sweet waters

and nothing of the land bears this shape. But I sipped flat vanilla

Coke medicinally and scraped the innards of a shredded warren

from the new wood finish. Or I dropped a rock on a smashed cat’s head

because it whimpered stuck living on Lincoln Boulevard. How is it

I come from Glück’s marshlands without any of its blue lore?

My body stank in its magenta stirrups, my body rattled inside

the toppling trailer home. To what origins was I supposed to speak?

My identity, it means longing, a surname slipping into ur. A stranger

told us Eilbert means olive and we were so hungry we believed him.


The eye

guides us,

speaks north.

In wood

a lamb

burned through.

Hunger only

a sequence

outside us.

My eyes

found eyes

and found

more blue

than I—

Than I

a choking

up of

him and

I whited

to north,

a doing

violence, latitudes

shot through

the trees.

Confined here

a couch,

no room,

so uncompassed—

Sewed a compass

out of boredom

to my breast,

its skin ducklinged

with some blood.

My eyes so

white and healthy,

my path, no

north, no east.

I have pasts

with no whites

in my eyes.

I lack hands.

I lack nails.

I lack nails

to burrow us.

A tree blazed

in itched shape.

The man carves

his pretty verse

bark-thick scrapes.

A pitiful tree.

A rope tethered.

I came back

to screen-cut

my memories, how

he opened the

window and pulled.

Widowed, a pulling, no.

It wouldn't have worked.

He halved himself up.

Folded at the sill.

He is a centaur.

Half inside, half outside.

His finger curling air.

I heard nothing once.

I hear nothing again.

Kidnapping comes from English.

To nab or seize.

I want to speak.

The windowscreen was cut.

The fingerprints still there.

The fingerprints still there

but the parents gone.

Weed grows over concrete.

It’s ideal, it is.

This manner of taking.

The soil that takes

it back without blame,

the rows of violets.

No room for metaphor

without the bloodied tree.

The white part of

the eye is for

guiding us through this.

See only the eye.

Issue 18