June 14, 2012 / Creative Writing
In “The Canyon, Age 8,” the poet Timothy E. G. Bartel describes a certain coming-of-age brush with a minor sin, one that leaves him “tasting his new words.”
November 8, 2018
When King David was very old, he could not keep
warm even when they put covers over him.
—1 Kings 1:1–2
What is there to do but tuck his head
in the nook of her arm, cradling him like an infant.
Her blood runs hot. She has chased after birds,
dogs, and clouds with less calling—now
she wills fire to burn through her skin,
binds his feet tight with blankets, every inch
of her pressed against his dry locust bones,
fists rubbing at the lake bed of his stomach.
She kneads his arms of ice, unbraids her hair
to river his shoulders. They couple in a dream
she’ll never have. Chest to chest, her muscles
tense to force heat from her body to his.
She thinks of the boy who prevailed against a giant,
longs for the bright gold of him, sling
and stones, not this creature whose confused eyes
search hers for mercy, hands shaking,
skin like papyrus. Her heat rises
to the palace roof, her bony knees, kindling.
She is, herself, the whole, brightening universe.
Her womb not yet opened, still smelling of stars.
Jill Bergkamp is a poet whose work has appeared in Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Sugar House Review, Rattle, Southeast Review, and other journals. She lives with her husband and their black Lab, Ruby, in Northern Carolina.