​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L

Gillian Cummings is the author of My Dim Aviary, chosen as the winner of the 2015 Hudson Prize from Black Lawrence Press and forthcoming in November 2016. Her poems have appeared in Boulevard, the Crab Orchard Review, The Cream City Review, The Laurel Review, The Paris-American, and in other journals. She is also the author of three chapbooks, most recently Ophelia (dancing girl press, forthcoming 2016). 

O P H E L I A   F I N D S   N O   F A U L T

                    W I T H   F O L L Y

B Y   G I L L I A N   C U M M I N G S 

​​Death’s secrets like a box of dried flowers:
crab apple crinkles to powder, lavender—
broken—betokens no grace. But her simples
are simple, the moon’s face in water breaking 
and breaking again, telling a story of how nothing—
ever—stays, even this blank night with its scald 
of cold, her blue fingers. And what would she say, 
gone beyond the worst? Every death tells 
a story suffused with neither a quiet nimbus
nor the fog’s persistence on how sight is never
clear. She saw. Saw her mind like ravens
over a battlefield, scattering roses to grow
thorns of graves. And that was enough: 
to know she didn’t matter, except in pain. 

B Y   G I L L I A N   C U M M I N G S 

​​Meanwhile, she wants to die and does 
not know: to the body and its burden of 
boundness or to the self that pretends to be 
body, unpriested though prim, primed for its 
fist-folded grasping. She steps and a hundred 
moths lift, lift lightly, spiral-whirl, lilac moths, 
they fleck and flicker, weaving a world of flight 
around her. Over roots impossibly stone-clung, 
moss-covered, roots like dragon-coil, though prettier
to see than say, the river plumbs the places where, whitely, 
it pools. Some bubbles, in eddies, last longer than others, 
linger in the swirl. As moths cross over, one by one,
she goes under, under, the place where water doesn’t foam. 
This fleeting world—achingly, without her—all of it alive.

O H , O P H E L I A , W H Y   W I T H O U T

        W O N D E R , W H E N   W I N G S