Poetry: 3 Poems by Celeste Rose Wood
The Institute for Affording Immediate Relief to Persons Apparently Dead from Drowning
This is how we resurrect a fish:
pull her by her hair up
a dank embankment. She will have drowned,
likely more than once, each of her lungs
now thoracically crackling, now still. See how from her mouth
ekes an algal potion snaking like smoke.
We begin to play our accordion of fire. Smoke
darts from the lips of the bellows as we fish
her from her skirts and find behind her a sort of mouth
into which we insert rubber tubing, not up
but parallel the line of her back, between her lungs
and anus a corridor, a direct canal drowned
in starving capillaries. Prototype enemas sometimes drowned
the reviver by incomplete combustion, a fount of smoke
regurgitated from a backside encountering our lungs
sucking in our habitat, we like fish,
we like mermen, risking deep dives to come back up
holding vapor in our teeth, our mouths
flapping like her skirts in the water as she clogged one mouth
of river. Addition of bellows afforded barrier between the drowned
and our own alimentary channels. We of the Institute are now up
to date on latest methods of relief by which one smokes
out life from the bowels of a cold fish,
an apparently dead fish floating like a lung
though weighted in her thorax by the sandbags of her lungs.
At first the water won’t come up the way that it went down, her mouth
now but a simple conduit for spirit like the eyes of fish,
how all that’s raised or lowered through them has been or will be drowned
in light. However, sometimes light can be a veil of smoke,
ergo smoke can be a veil of light and climb up
intestines like sunrise parallel a river, up
the belly curve of horizon to the lungs
which shelter sleeping animals in their canopies. Our smoke
flickers at the tongues of trees, wrests breath from the mouths
of dreaming fauna. We bend back scales from eyes of the drowned
who sought to swim like unschooled fish.
Let us not speak too much in metaphor; the lungs we re-inflate not fish
but human, our methods scientific. With tobacco smoke we wake drowned
persons by blowing bellows up their nether mouths.
Blueprint for a Ghost Cycle
There is nothing intentional about
twenty-eight limbs and seven heads
stumbling against a screen door
so that it knocks against the doorframe
stutteringly. An unpracticed tangle of
spirits might accidentally jog
piano keys, break tea cups of coffee,
slice bread raggedly by scratching
contorted backs on cupboards or
counter awnings. Your special
spook camera arrived in an unmarked
box. Through it you think you have seen
one or two spirits an orb of blurry
light what could be, squinting,
a translucent human. Your special spook
camera is a scam. If it worked, it would
actually reveal aggregates of spirits
arranged in many limbed mandalas,
gyrating like ink blots. When you die
movement becomes something between
a wheel and a centipede. The truth is,
if you have not already, you may want
to begin to prepare for futile writhing.
They Come Back Changed
The glass fishbowl works as some kind of satellite
dish, affixed with anodes of aluminum foil, rubber-
cemented radio dials, and black speakers so deep
they fade back into nothingness. I work beneath
the watchful eyes of goldfish.
One night, by luck
or fate, I find a frequency on which a thrumming's
coming through. At first I hear it in my heart. Then,
from the fish tank filter pump, between the bubble
hiss of space expanding, is a harsher tsking whisper.
My goldfish make a ring of baby planetary light
they circle one another so adroitly in their water.
I pull my antique console-unit microphone nearer
by its tail. Its live. I knock my tongue against my
mouth's dome, clack the rhythm in repeat.
The clickings come again, they come back changed.
I giddy-up their difference up the wires till their
originators modulate again — o sentient
oscillations! — then shout in English, "Listen,
I must know, where are you now? When will
you get here?!"
How the whispers die is suddenly
and in slow motion, like birds at the arc of
an asteroid. My goldfish bob unblinking, judgment
in the round and soundless 'no's of their breathing.
All week, I move my dials microscopically, parse
peaks and troughs for comments, one more sign
of sentience. I don't need SETI.
no voice returns for waiting or for pulling hair.
I am found offensive, obviously American, bullish,
brutishly combing the waves of white noise
like a tourist, unwanted. My goldfish trace
the whirlpool of my toilet and wink out of sight.
I crash my apparatus on the carpet, break it
underneath my boots.
Outside of my apartment,
down the stairs and up ten blocks, stars
are visible high above a bridge and low below
the bridge. I have no means of getting up to them
so I jump down.