Three poems by Victoria Lynne McCoy

Burial Grounds

When an elephant comes across abandoned 
	   skeletons, she will nudge the scattered bones 
and tusks, build a grave of branches, 
					            stay silent 

for days.  She will know her way back to them.  
When the needle first drilled into the skin taut 

	     across my rib cage and tender breast tissue, then 
deeper, the tattoo artist told me I was a bleeder.  
							                       You, 

	a few days dead as grief seeped from me in the shape 

of your name. A burial ground of black ink 
		    and dead skin down the side of my body.  
	   When a spotted dolphin’s companion dies 

it swims around for days with its eyes refusing to open 
and years ago scientists in Tanzania saw a chimpanzee 

die of a broken heart 
			     and sometimes I can’t help 
	    but believe some god plucks loved ones 

from our hands like dandelions.  Maybe elephants 
	    return to the gravesite because they cannot forget 
how to get there.  For weeks I carried around a teddy bear, 
	   your picture 
			        hung from its neck by a blue shoelace. 
*

Self-Portrait in Unfinished Letters

Dear  —
         The gulf is bleeding    black
				                again.
They say they’ll fix it.  They say Claude Chabrol is dead
		    for the first time 
          today—September 12th and church bells		
                               through the courtyard window. 
		     I meant to see more of his films
while he was alive.  Barreling down Pacific Coast Highway,
          what was that song?  Do you remember
		       what Allison sounds like sitting shotgun?

			      +

Dear  —
	I quit vegetarianism last month.
Remember when the teacher said,
		 I’m too old to protest?
	The largest picture on the front page
                        of the paper is a man crossing Bryant Park
with a mannequin
			         underarm.  They said
	 they’d fix it.  A city of moths
                    to the tent-white sheen of celebrity.  
                                            I try to leave her 
out of this one:  Allison, a choir of whispers in the dark. 

	                        +

Dear  —
	They decided not to burn the Quran yesterday.
You’ve always liked it better when there’s a they in the story.
			     I’ve lost faith in my own
						                     impact.

		The Nile is drowning in one hundred tons
	  of gasoline and Allison is dead 
for the one thousand seven hundred seventeenth time
	  when I wake.  There’s a fire 
                                                  under the earth they can’t fix.

			  +

Dear  —
	La fille cupée en deux in a near-empty theater, 
                     my appendages overflowing 
                                                   with the ghost of almost.  

I’ve forgotten her face for the third time today.

	A sunken-in man on the subway plays a song 
		about a city built entirely of instruments
that make no sound.
			I’ll go anywhere
					the sirens can’t find me.

*

Allison


I was sure I'd die like her
as I watched the world upturn. 

My scream—
a single, almost indistinguishable word—

sluicing through the windshield's cracks.
The sky for a moment at my feet

and then just sky again.
The car roof bowed beneath the tree. 

Two arms in the morning light
tore me from the wreckage

of splintered glass, branches,
her name, her name, her name.

I was sure I'd die like her that day
and what I remember most clearly

as the highway kaleidoscoped before me
was screaming her name, begging

not to live, but to find her
in the after, waiting.

More poetry at Used Furniture.

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Comments

  1. This was something other. Thank you.

  2. Alison Armstrong-Webber says:

    Maybe elephants
    return to the gravesite because they cannot forget
    how to get there.
    *

    I’ve forgotten her face for the third time today. (gut-wrenching)

    *
    begging

    not to live, but to find her
    in the after, waiting.
    *

    three wonderful poems.

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