When the god with the false
front tooth & gossamer wings
rigged up with wire arrived,
I was already talking myself down,
climbing sure-footed from a steep
ridge, already fixed on the field of deer
running gold through a blueing
fade into night. Before
the god with flames for hands
& hooks for teeth & jasmine
breath kissed open my front
door & folded his jacket, the spackled
patch on the drywall was already
dry. Already the very picture of a placid
moon’s child-face, without even
having to squint. I expect
the next will arrive like mist
burning off wet grass— Haze-hot
trail of morning’s early pink—
A stagecoach of ghosts, I’ll think.
& I, haunted by stranger animals,
will stay quiet, look on.
The Fox Sisters Orchard
Mister Splitfoot Descends
Accident made manifest, Mister arrived
the day we plucked the body from the lime
lining the false nursery wall. Spectral
telegraph, something loosed. Mister arrived
hungry, having been away, he said. Mister
arrived with a hunger like a glutted ember’s
burning mouth. I know. And would.
The rustling at our nightdress hems, vibration
crawled through sissy & me each night,
full hunter to full wolf moon.
Mister Splitfoot Visits the Nursery
Once laced through us with
the stink of curse, every darkening
hour became another boiling
pan of pitch tipped and set on fire.
At first, we only ran fevers. For weeks
the doctors shook their heads
in our doorway and Mama talked to god
through her good handkerchief. Night
by night, Mister came to the bed
to stroke at our hair, flicking his tongue
through the ether, gorging himself
on every of Mama’s tongue-stuck prayers.
At first, we failed to consider
the meal always has courses.
Mister Splitfoot Sends Regards
Before the day gleams surly, we east
soundless to the orchard. Apple peck
scattering our red-laid laps, we hunt
sweetest skins―a gift for him to cut
his teeth, to stem the current of his want.
Tonight, a gift, we’ll heap a feast
across the bed in our place. Sweet for sweet,
I tell my sister but I have to look away.
Mister Splitfoot Versus
Nothing quells the endless lamb
flocks I’ve counted through to fool’s
gold sleep. Such a soft endlessness
is a gift. The silence of this room
is a gift, and sissy’s silence, the rain-
stopped silence―a gift to better
hear how leisurely the blood paces
Elisa Karbin is the author of the chapbook, Snare, as well as poems in, or forthcoming from, Crazyhorse, Indiana Review, West Branch, and Blackbird, among others. She holds a PhD in poetry from The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she was a Tinsley Helton Dissertation Fellow. Currently, she serves as Visiting Assistant Professor in English at Marquette University. Find more info at www.elisakarbin.com