Two Poems


Chloe Clark
 About the Writer

Chloe N. Clark is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing & Environment. Her work has appeared in Rosebud, Sleet, Menacing Hedge, and more. She blogs about books, cake, and all things nerd as Pints and Cupcakes. She also composes 140 character rants about doughnuts, ghosts, and magic @PintsNCupcakes 

The Apparitionist

 

I used to sleep with this guy who studied Japanese ghosts in literature. He’d talk about them while I was trying to go to sleep and the names stuck in my head long after I’d forgotten his. Shogo, Yokai, Yurei. And his dog was named Lafcadio, I do remember that. The guy’s name was something easy, one syllable, started with an L or a J.

 

I have an ex whose own ex before me attempted suicide. He said that she cut along the horizon rather than up the mountain. I asked what led her to it and he couldn’t remember, but he thought that it might have been because she lost the ability to dream after a car accident. I took this metaphorically, but he corrected, said literally. Said she closed her eyes and nothing came. I was terrified for years afterwards that every bump on the head might sever my dreams from my body.

 

My best friend and I, when we were children, would chase ghosts down by the valley stream. We’d pass their names between us in the form of stories. There were so many tales we had memorized. Most were cannibalized, stolen from the memories of other towns. The Dead Bride, The White Woman, The Lost Girl. When we tired of the dead, we would catch tadpoles in cupped palms, just for a second before releasing them. Years later when the bodies of birds were found, I tried to imagine them back to life and I would always get as far as their lives inside eggs.

 

I had a cousin who sold her soul, or that’s what she told me. She said the devil met her at a game of cards. She said the devil was a beautiful woman. She said the devil spoke in French and she didn’t speak the language, so she thought she was merely selling the memory of a man she once knew. And what does it feel like to have no soul, I asked. Like every night is the night before Christmas but you never wake up on Christmas morning, she told me.

 

There was a woman who I knew. She had a scar that perfectly circled her body, as if she had once been sawed in half. I’ve never liked that magic trick, she told me once in confidence. I never saw the scar, though, she told me about it as if one day I would and she didn’t want me to be surprised.

 

My friend reads the shapes of people’s skulls. She brushes out my hair, takes bobby pins, and begins to pull it all into swoops. Her fingertips on my scalp map out the secrets of my fortune. When I lean backwards and rest fully into her hands, she says that she knows my future. You will carry such heavy things. I laugh, thinking the voice she has adopted is merely theatrical until she continues. You will carry so many other people’s ghosts.

A Spell that Uses the Blood of Oranges

 

There is a magic trick that no one really knows how to do.

 

                                                                                  It’s the one where the magician drowns at the end and the audience

                                                                                  rushes the stage and resuscitation is attempted and the magician

                                                                                  doesn’t make it.

 

The man I loved had the build of an escape artist. He taught me how to slip

 

                                                                                  from handcuffs, from the borders of maps, from graves. He

                                                                                  showed me how to place my feet and palms on the bed and raise

                                                                                  my body like I was overcome with the spirit of god.

 

Once a girl threw herself off the top of a thirty story building because her lover was a high-wire artist.

 

                                                                                  He had been the best in the world and everyone said his ability to

                                                                                  balance was supernatural. I saw him once and imagined that the

                                                                                  people who loved him must also hate him.

 

When the man I loved disappeared, I looked for him in unexpected places. I checked under cars,

 

                                                                                  in the back of hotel room closets, and even in the least used stacks

                                                                                  of college libraries—the untranslated French poetry collections and

                                                                                  the books made up of superstitions.

 

The girl didn’t die and the story made all of the newspapers. She broke every bone

 

                                                                                  in her body but somehow she lived and the press heralded it as a

                                                                                  miracle. She made a statement: I am more than him now. He is no

                                                                                  miracle. Later, she died of her internal injuries and the obituary was

                                                                                  kept to the back pages.

 

Sometimes, without warning, I faint. Sometimes, after, I will wake up in places

 

                                                                                  I don’t remember ever having been. The smell of oranges, of

                                                                                  cinnamon, of cloves, will be in the air. I will taste cocoa ground

                                                                                  with chili peppers on my tongue. When people ask me if I’m

                                                                                  alright, I never know how to respond.

 

There is a magic trick that no one really knows how to do.

 

                                                                                  It’s the one where the magician’s assistant is locked into a mirror.

                                                                                  She pounds and pounds on the glass but no one ever knows the

                                                                                  words to bring her back on through.