Proxima and Silver Swan

Arien Reed


This, precious demon, is how you caught me

the sweetest pricks
the pinching of strings

lamps slanting their ivory outpour
across polished brazil nut skin
reflecting a line like a frozen finger
of lightning

the artist’s finger
on the warbling string
a bottom lip

no matter how softly
she strokes the violin
there is not a sound
the walls don’t hear

the keening
of your hopeless, stranded

a river for my ears striking me
where I stood

carrying the bundle
of me into new years

where the sweetness of you
cradles me
through yet another century

of longing to be
near the gaping mouth
of that hourglass body
from which the hum

of exquisite perplexity
sighs through me

oh cracking melody
I can’t even move
while you torment me

so gingerly
so precisely

the sweep of a thumb
along the bass’s strings
a pulsing

in my paralyzed neck
oh, how I want to be
caught in your ripening eternity

tell me what to be
tell me, because I have forgotten
I am me

pluck me
along the sharpening
of your soprano legato

where I long to be the strings
the bow strokes
so keenly

teach me to be air
and you will see how I can sing

when underwater
and still breathing
the perfume

into which you refine me

your story will never leave
twisting me, pulling

me into the glossy conch shells
your eyes are becoming
where I am spiraling

I flail but the railing
too is flying
away into the bubbly

the moon a raspberry
in this honey-spilled
of awakening

and like the sea
you smell like something
heavy and breathing

like the sea, you drench me
with tugging and pressing
but starting from my mind
and only then
dampening down
toward sand-mired feet

I am crooked
in the slanted sliding of
your uneasy embrace

where you kiss me gently like a truck
wrapping around the tree
after leaning

across the twin yellow snakes

your arms are the roots
of my fire

your legs the sapphire branches
of thrumming dragon
fly wings

you are cedar on the tongue
of poetic intrigue

and if anything
like my own creativity
you swelled and aged

into everything your mother hoped
you would never be

but I love the very taste
of your daring

do you feel these inverted peaks
of harmony?

this is how your bass
will slam through me

stretched frequencies
draping our shapes
and humming through us
like bees

like sunlight in a jar
you are trapped
so long as I do not move

like sunlight you are slippery
as I fall forward into this dream
you fall with me

what I’m trying to tell you is
you struck all the right chords in me
there was no flower, there were no bees
yet still you made honey from me

this glass crystallizing in the corners
of my eyes mean I fear
I may never

hear you again

Konstantis Alexopoulos - Silver Swan

Silver Swan

Round and cloaked in a gown
silvery as anemic dusk, she hums,

sways, and when the stretching music
shrugs off its meek mask and transforms

into a swan—no, a flock of swans—wings
clashing, countering, and commingling,

she rises into a pique, imagining herself
a slender ballerina still, her skin smooth

and pale as stars, her body twirling, arms
stretched out over her head like bowed swans’

necks, and to her tiny childhood self,
clutching that threadbare rabbit,

she looks like a dime tossed and—upon landing
on its rim—spinning and spinning,

silver and flashing, newly minted,
yet tarnished, the priceless grime of antiquity,

spinning and spinning as only swans do
when shot in the breast and flung by the shock,

around and around, the glassy pond
rising, a silver mirror falling up,

and swallowing her whole.

Arien Reed, a trans man and 2019 MFA graduate from National University, lives with his husband and works at Fresno City College, where he co-founded the LGBTQ Allied Staff and Faculty Association on which he currently serves as president. His poetry has appeared in the TulipTree Review and his artwork in the GNU journal.

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