Two Poems | Desirae Terrien
The Vanitas Dealer
Note how the artist hid the skull under petals and butterfly creases. Life, my dear, can be that simple. Take this crown of paper flowers. This velvet backdrop. This kiss of paint on your skin: Cold. Slippery. Gentle. Such a starving brittle thing—you’ve studied the taste of cotton, that half-gag when you sterilize words and spit the silvered wads into your handkerchief. You wish, just once, they’d spill red. You wish shadow-long fingers would snake through your ribs and tie that final knot of peace already, just tie it up pretty in a bow—it’ll have to be tight, just a bit more and no no hold still, this is exactly what you came here for you little drowner in spider silk now hold still. Never mind that moth behind your sternum. The daze of burnt-out wicks. You fragile, you absolute shell. Note how the artist signed no name.
Persephone Refuses the First Spring
You will say I am a deer who loves the hunter. Hear me, Mother: You have not tasted pomegranate flesh. Dusky rubies bursting on your tongue. How can I go back to plucking blossoms, now that the ripened nectar draws its fingers down my chin? You have called my lover thief, madman, whittler of bones. He is not what you thought. His hands are gentle as a thread of smoke, his arms a silent lake in which I sink and sink. A maiden’s garden holds no more wonders for a woman wed with night. Keep your rosebuds. Keep your blush-cheeked apples. Keep your unshorn flock of clouds. No man stole me—I named each blood-dark seed I swallowed and I named them freedom. I let him make me queen. This crown that so disturbs you: not a wreath of bones, but antlers, velvet-skinned. Mother—I will not go back. We will flip your quaint moon over like a coin and turn it black.
Desirae Terrien is a graduate student from Southern California. Nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in NonBinary Review, Dying Dahlia Review, Cattails, The Ear, 34 Orchard, and more. She can often be found kneeling in church or nibbling on cheese.