Between storms: The poetry of Emma Barnes

By Emma Barnes

 

The Sea

I have decided to become
something new,
perhaps appalling,
so that the space I once occupied
remains only
foaming and blue.

I want to be put into a still
place, same as you—
only I want to be
without words in my mouth,
no longer doubtful,
my foreign hands
resplendent
under the frothing surface;
raw as a consequence of
having to ask you to be
something more,
always more.

Between storms,
I float thinly on the surface,
reflecting on the parts
of me that have grown elsewhere.
With the tide in my teeth
I think carefully to myself,
how fearful you must have been
at my threat to open you.
 
This new fluidity of mine
strikes your feathered bones,
bends you into resistant shapes,
and I imagine that I do not respond
to your deliberate grief
as you watch me walk further,
deeper,

descend into the parting waves.

 

Expectations

The room remained hollow,
though the house itself
was brilliantly lacquered
and filled to the brim
with voices.

She sat, bare and beating,
drawn to the stillness
that was the mirror.
Her fingers stretched outward,
fragile—
the stringing of rosy powder
across skin no longer
considered to be her own.
This pulled her cheeks
up, up towards the sky,
as if it were also listening.

Her dress clung patiently
to her body,
the threaded bones underneath
threatening to soon come apart
if removed.
When she took the truth of herself
to be adequate, the cloth carried her down
the steps,
and she appeared, surrendering,
all cream and amber
for her guests.

They sat patiently, the chatter coming to
a reluctant hush,
as the brown-haired man set down his glass
with a twisted grin, taking her by the waist,
speaking,
Now it is time to see,
as she follows to the hollow room,
turns her head,
and they remain
as they were.


Emma Barnes is a sophomore English major from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, currently studying at The University of Maine. Coming from a family of English professors and poets, she grew up reading the work of Louise Glück, Denise Levertov, and William Carlos Williams. As she works through the challenging process of putting her first chapbook together, she will continue on her path to becoming a creative writing professor, with the hope of being able to share her love of poetry with others.

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