The Night Before Calendula Blooms
Note from the Editor
There is a softness here in Ally’s work, subtlety, that caresses you while bringing you to your end at the same time. Tender spaces that allow the reader to see ourselves in the music, and leaves daggers for us to carve our own notes, even if they are into your own skin.
Seat of the Soul
Open your mouth.
I give unto you ::
bright blood, crushed elderberry
fragrant, thick, raw honey
cotton breath, mullein
romance, rose hips
Lay on the table.
Hands over your head.
Look at me.
Your green-violet eyes soften to my will
a frisson rattles your bones, anticipation and thrill
you part your ribs
spreading yourself so that I may harvest
My knife penetrates your soft skin
I carve gently, watching your eyelids flicker in ecstasy
when i am satisfied, i plunge my fingers
curl them around your smooth, slick
i lick my lips
i devour you
in the pink haze of morning
i kiss your fluttering eyelids and
i am not afraid of death
after sweating through the sheets
the impossible blue of the sky
taunts me with the lie of constancy
as you sleep, i stroke your hair and
hum the song of how we met—
before the sun there were no shadows
the world formed different patterns
no absence or lack
just a careful feeling for one another
each a world of one,
content and longing
though even in contentment,
feel the limits and the finiteness of our own form
the moon watches patiently
wiggling, searching for nourishment
we rotate, twist
pumping sodium and hydrogen atoms
from the world into our bodies
(bodies as in a form with structure,
not indivisible from the shadows to come)
the sun rises and
you whisper in your dreams
i pull you closer,
tangling our limbs like
for each other
I want to name every impossible thing
I want to name every impossible thing
ask the ones who hurt how they want to be called
gift them rosemary sprigs and fields of daisies
I want to name every painful thing
every time an open bruise developed into a scar
I want to say
my sweet my love I am here I am here what do you need?
I have a salve of plantain and calendula
gorgeous, hearty things
may I rub them so gently wherever you ache?
I want to call every lonely one
and ask them how their heart bleeds
I want to wrap them in their favorite fabric
I want to kiss their forehead and make their favorite dish
and tell them — you are worthy, you are loved, oh so
I want to weep with everyone who has caused hurt
I want to journal with them, tear our hair out together
rage and cry and pound on our chests
I want to run with them until our muscles burn and our lungs catch
fire and we weep again
and then I want to hold their hand as they lower their eyes and
the feet of the ones they’ve hurt
I want to call them every morning and ask — how have
today? what have you done differently so you will never
them in this way again?
I want to take you all into my arms and I want you to take me into yours
allow our bodies to intertwine into new shapes, into new prayers
borrowed from everything we’ve learned from being
impossible, painful, lonely, hurtful things
Why do you write poetry?
I write because I’m curious about what I know, how I know it and how I feel about it. Writing helps me understand the connection between what I think I know and what I feel in my body. When I’m writing, I don’t usually have a destination in mind. My best writing comes from staying with the depth of whatever I’m feeling and exploring the shape those emotions take. I love writing poetry specifically because I can jump between ideas and then set them aside rather than the sustained attention it would take to write, say, a novel. A lot of my writing happens when I’m waiting for a friend or pumping gas or working on something else. The economy of language in poetry appeals to me too – how can I be as precise as possible? What am I really trying to say here?
How long have you been writing?
For as long as I can remember. I’ve kept a journal on and off since I learned to write and have always been drawn to poetry. It’s only been a year or so that I’ve started to feel an itch to share my work publically though.
Who are some of your favorite poets / writers?
Audre Lorde, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Liu Cixin, Akwaeke Emezi, Alice Sparly Kat, N.K. Jemisin, Ocean Vuong, Carmen Maria Machado, Lou Sullivan, Sylvia Wynter, my friends Madison and Hannah
In what ways have you seen your work evolve most significantly?
I’m trying to be more clear in what I write. I’ve written a lot of bad poetry that I thought was good because I used weird spacing or strings of words that sound cool together but the poem itself doesn’t really make sense and feels very navel gazey. I realized that my favorite poems to read stir something within me and reveal layers to the world I didn’t realize was there. If I want to do that with my work, I need to be empathizing with the reader and moving beyond just vomiting on the page. Getting rejected from a bunch of journals helped, I think. I’m trying to be more generous with my work and imagining these poems as an offering or gift to the reader rather than just an exercise for me alone.
How long do you spend editing/ revising? How long do you spend on a piece?
I don’t spend nearly enough time editing. I do very little editing honestly but I’m trying to do more. A lot of times I’ll write a piece with the intention of editing / revising but most of those are still sitting in a folder somewhere. I try to sit with a piece and finish at least a draft in one sitting because I find it hard to get back into the flow if I keep a poem half written.
ally (they/she/he) is a queer trans dreamer and schemer based in bulbancha (new orleans) louisiana. she is a student of traditional and allopathic medicine which means she loves biochemistry almost as much as he loves laying in fields of daisies. you can find them on twitter: @ally_noyes