Stone Telling

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Mother Frankenstein

by Liz Henry

Mother Frankenstein swollen lightning
stitching needles where my lips kiss
in your smoke-ghost skull where axons
open fire with past love letters electric
little histories of the alphabet gathered
in your pathetic apron's outwash plain,
Wars and arrows, night-knives, night blind star
nights of murdered poets unburied
scars stitching scars on your skin my lips kiss
plague-fury, forced survivors of a shipwreck
end of the world lost word lined up singers
sad stitch and mouth raw mothers of sorrow
More than sorrow or grief — exhaustion,
roseblown the words of dead friends cuneiform

Mother Frankenstein your full lighthouse tower —
flash in the raincloud from the empty tower —
masts cut away from the arc of your rainbow cut sailropes,
worm finger death curve of the wreckage of fists
cleared for later deciphering by a panel of experts,
tireless antmouth of your computers' calculation,
machinetooled fingers swollen from salt tangled
dishwater tears working writing battery
beyond the power of life to give charge

Child grown in there still in the ricket trap
daring to carry iron famine's rusty womb quilt scraps,
scuttling beetle limb bicycling in the full belly
knees life machine shipwreck piston
under your apron, under the crying breasts
longing for the knife-child who will empty the grey tower
emerging like the prow of a ship through fog,
painted wavemilk churn in the oiled gearteeth,
gun-child descending the stairs to the flaming torches,
memory's oilstained workbench and the thigh-vise grip of birth,
the moon's handfuls of nothing throwing craters of light in our faces

Your hand stitched to mine pulled me to the trenchmouth
buried in cataracts caliche bulldozed by tanks
and the blind hand dowsing artesian graves
found its original wrist: I can't see
the stone in my own eye, enough burial for forever,
Trumpet call of lightning to reanimate millions,
bring back those soldiers so they could kill, and kill, and go home
to their wives and mothers who are now ready to kill in turn
until the earth's scabbed graves are clean of soldiers and there are only
handfuls of nothing and craters of nothing cradling skeletons
with guitars, the ghosts of machine guns, ghost song,

Well of the dead, I would take you into my belly
Athena Diomedes would be with me clutching an embryonic boulder
to swallow the dead and bring them shining whole into all time,
stitches straining to burst with the bowling ball weight of the guilt
of futile miscarriages tumbling in cataracts, stochastic tapestry,
I would leap into the night, iridium flash, verso of the meteor's flight,
unintentional handful of nothing and words and the workbench of memory,
Mary mother of Frankenstein you give me your blackened tooth's unwatched star,
your handfuls of stigmata, your soldier ants slicing the moon's andalusian eye,
your body's machinery in the bonefrost of lost desire and a kiss of loving betrayal,
the memory of your pellucid eggshell trembling in the corpus luteum of my fists

Liz Henry has published poems and translations in Fantastic Metropolis, Strange Horizons, Parthenon West Review, Cipactli, Literary Mama, Xantippe, eXchanges Journal of Literary Translation, Poetry Flash, The Redwood Coast Review, and other magazines. She edited The WisCon Chronicles, Vol. 3, and has edited and published many books and zines under several small presses including Tollbooth and Burn This Press.

Photography: ¡Rayos!, by José Eugenio Gómez Rodríguez.