Sierra DeMulder

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IN THE IN-BETWEEN

We finally decided to leave each other. 

To throw in the towel as they say, which
makes me think of our love as some

red-faced boxer, lips ballooning, eyes

disappearing inside themselves--or,
as some laboring woman, belly round, heeing

and hawing, our love trying to push out

new life, and us, two scared nurses, dabbing
away the sweat on her brow or cleaning

the blood from his busted lip. Our love:

not pregnant, no good left hook, but
it did put up a hell of a fight. We chose

to forfeit, to finish it. Our love: some

shitty novel or a board game that just
goes on and on forever—just end it!

Maybe it's an animal stuck down

by a car. I’ve heard deer make the most
human of noises as they die—just

end it. The night we did, we slept

the kind of touchless sleep that follows
a funeral. I woke midday to the sound

of stillness, nothing, and knew where

our love lives now. Our bodies
refusing to rouse to a world bled of it.

Some part of us wanted to stay there,

in the in-between, where the baby
isn’t a stillborn, where the deer runs off

into the meadow, where the boxer

just gets up punch after punch
and the rounds go on forever.


Your Son Has a Beautiful Voice

Once, outside of an ice cream shop,
he told me how you got sick.
How he was ten years old and how
he used to fall asleep in the backseat
during the long drive up north
to the better hospital. How he knew
the end was near because that week,
the preacher spoke of how God giveth
and especially of how God taketh away.
How he woke up in the middle of that night,
in the middle of a dream, and walked into
your room. How you passed right then,
as if waiting for his permission to teach him
all that you could about life. How the crying
seemed to go on forever. How suddenly,
one day, it stopped and he has not
cried since. I fall asleep beside him now,
listening to the way his breath untangles
itself from the day, like you must have
when he was small or still do. He speaks
of you, but with the delicacy of recalling
a dream: not dwelling too long on the details,
as if fearful the memory might fade completely.
Your son has a beautiful voice. I am afraid
I love him enough to listen to it forever. 
I am afraid he loves me enough to cry if I leave.


HAPPY NEW YEAR

If the entire existence of the Earth–

all 4.54 billion years– were condensed
into just one year, accordioned together

like a head-on collision, humans

would enter the party in the second
half of the last minute of the last day.

Just in time to fall in love with

a stranger and coax the ball to drop
like a disco egg and spill out a fetal

new year. By then, the dinosaurs

would all be asleep, black-out drunk
from their 30-minute binge.

Imagine a world war that lasts

a heartbeat. A century passed over
like a page in a flipbook. A baby

conceived and buried as an old man

in the same moment. You and I
are not dinosaurs and we are not

buried yet, so think of your heartache–

the one festering inside you at this
very moment, the poison doe

nuzzling itself against your throat.

Picture your anxiety, your midnight
panic, your fear, your perennial doubt:

each of these becomes not even a word

in the book, barely a grain of sugar
in the bowl. This is not a devaluing

of your pain but a dethroning.

An adjustment of the microscope’s lens.
Look up. The fireworks have started.

Kiss me. They will be gone so soon