Concussive

by Ruth Williams

When the magnolia’s
rich white buds
unclench,
the bees fly wildly,
hit the window. All day
these smacks of desire
measure time. A sift
of pollen yellows the sill
as if to anoint me, a blazed cross
between the eyes.
When I was a child, I knew
a girl named Heather
who’d been hit by a car.
Leaning forward, she showed
the dent in her forehead
and I wanted to run my thumb
down the divot, like the writer
who, reading his work, licks his fingers
as he turns each page, leaving
wet marks and a pause
that enters each word
to stretch it. Heather spoke
in a dulled way, her brain stuck
just after the strike.
She was the stupidest person
I so wanted to know, believing
she’d been consecrated, her self
gleaned by death.
When I pass the magnolia,
I lean into the lowest flower
inhale until I’m felled.
To be just a head on a stem, Heather,
to be stunned like a bee,
oh to sing, crashing
into the pause of my body’s
cockeyed look.

Ruth Williams is the author of a poetry collection, Flatlands (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), and two chapbooks, Nursewifery (Jacar Press, 2019) and Conveyance (Dancing Girl Press, 2012). Her poetry has appeared in literary journals such as 32 Poems, Michigan Quarterly Review, jubilat, Pleiades, Cimarron Review, and Third Coast, among others. Currently, she is an associate professor of English at William Jewell College and an editor for Bear Review.

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