“Siege Machinery” by Craig van Rooyen

Craig van Rooyen


Dusk slides beneath her dress,
creeps across her thighs, slips

over the rise of her belly.
Night gathers in the hollow

at the base of her throat.
I know she hears knives sharpening

when I unzip her,
the dress down-fountaining

over her bare feet. I can vanish
into the dark small of her back,

my bristled chin plowing
down its single row.

But there are places I dare not touch.
The timpani behind a knee,

the bowstring throat, a taut
and fluted ankle:

each an old crime scene
still taped off.

Yet, she has learned to open,
guiding the hot blades

of my hands into untouched places
that burn with their own furnaces.

I don’t pretend to be a healer,
bring only my glinting hook of need

to petal open her ribs, crack through
the gristle of her assembled face.

She is a horse, gravid
with the bodies of old lovers.

With them, I move inside her
waiting to set the city on fire.

from Rattle #64, Summer 2019


Craig van Rooyen: “My teacher, Marvin Bell, once assured me that poetry can be absorbing for an entire lifetime. The longer I keep at it, the more I cherish the feeling of being absorbed — of being soaked up by the process of laying down words.”

Rattle Logo