Author: Nicelle Davis

Though no on has touched her, her eyes have a beaten
stone’s polish—obsidian, faceted in skin, cold cover to
                         a hot center woman.

She lets the first line of song pass
            savors a swig off a juniper spirit.
Missing teeth, the gin glosses her lower lip
            where the words will come,
shining bright as red neon flashing
            vacancy. We wait for the band

to bring her next entrance, anxious
            for what might fall out. Her top sags
with the weight of breasts. We can see nipple
            twitching with her heart’s palpitations,
She swallows liquor,

swivels her cup. Ice claps for absence.
            She looks for the more in none. Gags
on the song lodged in her throat.
            Uses tongue to hollow out
all the vowels found in consonants until
            nothing sung is of language.

Her voice is a wide pit.
            In an open sore she offers windows into
what we are made of. Infectious body,
            red flood frothing at the wells gate. We’d burn
our own skin off to put hers on. At the end
            of every song, we beg for her
make us the singer
                  make us the killer and not the kill.

“Duende” previously appeared in Third Wednesday.

See Nicelle Davis’ poet page on the New York Quarterly or follow her on Twitter.

When the nurse comes to take vitals,
            I am arched over you,
your mouth latched and suckling milk
            from my body. Veins expand
spreading a blue-linked weave across
            my chest. Your little liver
struggles to process and skin turns gold

            as the mummy child I saw
at the Vancouver Museum. (He was embalmed
            with the care given a king—
wrapped in flaxen cloth, tarnished with gum.
            Curators believed they held
the youngest preserved pharaoh.
            It was a great disappointment
when forensic evidence found him
            to be a simple merchants son.) Common,

the nurse assures me, your son’s jaundice
            is common.


The casket-shaped cradle gleams
beneath the sun lamps in the corner.
The nurse instructs me to put you
                        back under.

            The museum’s glass case, well lit,
            haloed the child’s arms arranged
            to cradle himself in a darkness
                        his mother could not enter.

            She labored for him to always
            have the feel of her sentinel body—
            carried him carefully as though he would wake,
                        and laid him down gently,
                        as though he were not already broken.


I push my hand through
            the small hinged door,
touch your chest pulsing inconstantly
            as a flame’s flicker. My body
spliced open by your face
            breaking to surface,
pours blood on the rocker—
            pooling where I sit,
watching you learn to breathe
            above water.

            Deity Atum-Ra was said to have arisen
                        from the gold
            center of a blue lotus—
                        out from a dark
            wet chaos
                        he grew as light.

            The child
died in a street accident—
            a wooden cart
with spokes like rays
            rolled over him,
easy as a day turning.


I see a boy, a thousand years past,

chasing streaks of gossamer
trails leading to a road that’s bound
to the horizon. His fingers rising,
away from her hands, towards
the flashing blue arch of a goddess.


                                        yellow light/
                                                    blue spine

Chaos:                contracting—


                                       You exhale/
                                                  You inhale

this is eternity enough

See Nicelle Davis’ poet page on the New York Quarterly or follow her on Twitter.