Jane Eaton Hamilton

"At the bottom of the box is hope." – Ellis Avery.

Tag: ekphrastic poetry

Love Will (Still) Burst Into a Thousand Shapes

“…The next section of the collection following the one focused on artists is “Our Terrible Good Luck,” an apt oxymoron that encompasses the devastation that populates these poems on topics not often associated that kind of horror: motherhood and children. Oh boy, was this part of the collection hard for me. They’re just shattering to read: domestic abuse, the death of children, gun violence, mass murderers, the dark sides of motherhood, the physicality and sometimes grotesqueness of child birth. For me, they were painful and difficult to read, despite their being beautifully written. When I say devastating, this is what I mean:

In the month before they find your son’s body

downstream, you wake imagining

his fist clutching the spent elastic

of his pyjama bottoms, the pair with sailboats riding them

He’s swimming past your room toward milk and Cheerios

his cowlick alive on his small head, swimming

toward cartoons and baseballs, toward his skateboard

paddling his feet like flippers. You’re surprised

by how light he is, how his lips shimmer like water

how his eyes glow green as algae

He amazes you again and again, how he breathes

through water. Every morning you almost drown

fighting the undertow, the wild summer runoff

coughing into air exhausted, but your son is happy

He’s learning the language of gills and fins

of minnows and fry. That’s what he says

when you try to pull him to safety; he says he’s a stuntman

riding the waterfall down its awful lengths

to the log jam at the bottom pool

He’s cool to the touch; his beauty has you by the throat

He’s translucent, you can see his heart under

his young boy’s ribs, beating

as it once beat under the stretched skin of your belly

blue as airlessness, primed for vertical dive

HOLY FUCK, Jane Eaton Hamilton. I don’t remember the last time I read a poem so fucking sad and heartbreaking.” -Casey Stepaniuk

Love Will Burst into a Thousand Shapes, the poem

LoveWillBurstCOVER

The eponymous poem from my last collection:

Love Will Burst Into a Thousand Shapes*: Frida Kahlo

 

The first time I married Diego

he could not lift the paintbrush

from my womb

I bled cadmium from interior spaces

yawning with pubic hair, seeds

cactus roots

cavernous with absence

feeding myself with the milk of Solanaceae

Demeter’s teats

spitting out sugary skeletons

instead of babies

slipping towards parthenogenesis

 

After I married Diego a second time

he wound necklaces of thorns around my throat

I bled alizaran crimson from soft flesh

feeding myself dead birds

Other women crowded around

masticating and cheering, but they were nothing

even my sister was nothing

(was I? Was I nothing? With my lovers?)

 

Diego grabbed the sky

through the cavern in my chest

his arm a straight unbearable pole

and told me this was all the love

he had

 

Fair is fair; I didn’t have a heart at all anymore

just something swollen

a girl’s red castle of pain

wetly beating on sand

 

*Frida Kahlo, note to Diego Rivera

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