Each night, eyes shut, lying prone at the very edge of sleep
I’m losing handfuls of white windflowers into that black chasm.
Anemone: daughter of the wind. Like me, almost
parentless. Papery scraps, blooming from the blood of the dead,
whose stems, when broken, bleed poison
neutralized by air. Windflower,
thimbleweed, helmet flower, or smell fox
(for musk-reeking leaves—the flowers are odorless).
Awake my sleep-weak hands are full of pillow, asleep, full of white-tepalled,
star-stamened blossoms, each one some flimsy sentence I meant to keep,
each one spilling away, uncaught, down toward deeper sleep.
Blood bloom, fox musk, poison sap, all
lost. They vanish: blank paper, wind whipped and toppled
into sleep’s sea. I dive after dissolving confetti, melting snow,
and keep going until I reach colonies of groping carnivores
whose wide mouths eat, shit, and close up, collapsing inward from my touch.
Erin Gilbert received her MFA from the Bennington College Writing Seminars. She currently teaches at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle, Bellevue College, and Green River Community College. Erin has two essays forthcoming, one in Bitch Magazine, on the legend surrounding the life of the writer Isabelle Eberhardt, and the other in Structo, on the surreal fiction written by the Mexican painter Leonora Carrington.