Issue > Poetry
Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Rachel Eliza Griffiths is a poet and visual artist. Her fourth collection of poetry, Lighting the Shadow, was published by Four Way Books in 2015. Griffiths teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Threading the silver crust
of a nightmare with stars, I stitch
& pull my mother's name
through white stones that do not burn
in the riverbed of blood
beneath my tongue. The moon
is a knuckle, the crown of a nightly fist
pressed against my mouth. Tears
pour from my mouth. In absentia
someone votes for my life.

The night climbs my spine. My head
fills with involuntary stars.
Sorrow carries the news
to every door
the body has marked
with blood.

Our visits go on inside
my skin, existing like the light
of planets whose extinction we have
yet to memorize. How do I remember
which forever is her truth?

My mother's god bursts like rain
behind the earth's skull.
In water, our alphabet
sinks &

our arms, bare as ghosts,

like thin ships of paper. Love persists
within my gold bones. I kneel
in the hull of memory.
My flesh is a syntax of dark grammar
sunken beneath my tongue.

For years & for years you had her, I say
with blame.

Squealing & indigo, I take
my mother's words again.
Examine the fontanelles
of syllables, pressing
& striking
the echoes of her voice
until I scream.

Newborn with sorrow,
I can see the shining
we share when the world
leaves every face &
surface beatified
with suffering.

Tell me, I say.

I can't remember the thunder
that cracked my head
into stardust
above the hospital bed.

Tonight, my mother gets up
from her own silence
to tell me she believes
that we were all
the living she ever
wanted to say.


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