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 pedal 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: “I write poetry for the same reason a frog croaks—I want to be a rock star, but I can’t sing. It’s an uncomfortable situation.”