This refuses to be written. It’s the pistachio
stuck in the shell
that won’t crack open.
I spread out my collages on the living room floor—
the ones made in secret, midnights, gluesticks and jazz—
chose the holiest one, with seahorses and clocks
and pieces of words from a language I didn’t realize
I was fluent in until you understood;
put it in your hands for you to take home
and prop up on your kitchen counter.
I annotate this poem with my incoherence,
and erase the footnotes.
I stole my collage back
while you were passed out on the couch
and locked it up with everything else,
the life-force bleached out. It was
a casket of bones lowered into the ground,
never looked at again.
A famous folks singer said in an interview that musicians
these days, they don’t know where the music
is coming from. I don’t know
where anything I speak these days is coming from.
Consonants spliced together form
burial mounds. Vowels, a train moving artifacts
along a distant track.
The impact of stone
on a taut surface of water shattered
the stone, not the water.
I am inchoate fissures now,
uttering fragments of
our native tongue.
Cortney Collins is a poet living on the Eastern Plains of Colorado, in Eaton. She is equal parts metropolitan bustle and unincorporated railroad town, prairie and ocean, kale and Cheetos. She co-facilitates a weekly creative writing workshop for persons on probation in conjunction with SpeakOut!. This is her first published poem.
Photo: Patrick Tomasso