Temporary Vows

Caroline Bird

I hold two fingers to my head,trigger my thumb, I say pow.I slice my throat with a single stroke,pull an invisible bladevertically along my vein.Remember the deaths we did together?Twiddling oven knobs in the airthen thrusting our chins to inhale?I loved you so muchduring that experimental playwhen you slowly leant forward to nickyour femoral artery then quietlybled out in your seat until curtain call,blood only we saw.As well as death, we'd mime marriage.I'd slide on a spectral ringand you'd shiver at the thrillof my thumb and fingertipsealing the deal for a second tillthe thought melted back into your skin.I am proficient at beginnings,the Air Year: the anniversary prior to paperfor which ephemeral gifts are traditional.Only after our rings became solidsilver did they truly disappear.Now the house is a mime scene.Mime blood all over the floor,trodden into carpet fibers,shirts, bras, dried to an airy crustunder my nails. I slitmy neck at the traffic lights,pow on the train, I suspendmy non-knife above my head,"see what you're making me do."Red whirls rise from the cuts.All these huge thoughts come tonothing. My shadow isthe chalk outline of a womanwho did not jump.

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Caroline Bird has five collections of poetry published by Carcanet Press. Her most recent, In These Days of Prohibition (2017), was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award and the T.S. Eliot Prize.

Poetry Feb 2019 Cover

February 2019

Chicago, Illinois

Editor
Don Share

Art Director
Fred Sasaki

Associate Editor
Lindsay Garbutt

Assistant Editor
Holly Amos

Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Harriet Monroe’s “Open Door” policy, set forth in Volume I of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry’s mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre, or approach.

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