Valerie is dead,
cold in a taken crib.
She expires in the dentist’s chair, her back
bends, nails dragging against the wall.
Like a dog after scraps
the assistants tug at her gums.
Blood slurry and flesh decayed,
Valerie is dead.
The worms are loose in their casings,
the source of the drilling uncertain, but
she is foaming at the mouth in her coffin.
The dentist bleeds her awake and she feels the pinch deep in her jaw,
the embalming fluid jumping into her wiring.
Waxen, her teeth are bared in the moment
of ecstasy, the gassing, the sharp breath.
Like a sneezing chimera she arches, swanlike,
his hand toying with her rubber veil.
Valerie is dead
She wears a glow after,
like she has fireflies cut up and stuck behind her ears.
You flick sap from your beard
and I breathe in the forest
from the crook of your arm.
You hold me like the spruce holds a moth
your boreal mouth the offshoot
of thick, honeyed air.
You sleep with your lips ajar
and in your breath I hear the whip
of the branches as they fall
the whir of the chainsaw
and your sigh, your grunt
your coaxing, your whispers
bouncing off bark like a child’s prayer
before an operation.
You sculpt her and your cuts are
ribbons on the forest floor.
You whimper in your sleep and your fingers
reach for me
sticky with the relief of trees and rough
from the ache of metal.
I’m sorry you whisper,
to the trees.