A book in his house. Spilled water. My heel. Spilled
water on a new book in his house. An echo recalls his anger.
The puddle pooling the book jacket. It was hardcover. He
looked. A sentence. At the table. The wood beneath the water
no darker. I lifted the book. Held it dripping against my
stomach. The real of water through cloth. Through skin. The
book and I one. Hardcover. I showed him its green.
Cloth on board. Silver foil-stamped spine. See. I said.
It is green. Kiwi green. My confidence green. He stood
from his desk. A sargent sensing the temptation of
another man’s itch. The twitch of temple. Him over me. My
wrists in his hand. So different than holding. The book pressed
hard to my stomach. His hand pressed hard on the book on
my stomach. In his eyes a look of ruin. I had done this. I.
I would stain and log and mess and reek adrenal yellow
on bamboo sheets. On the streets I wronged him. The
negative balance. My ongoing debt. A gathering of
multitudes. Unzipped myself to the cold. Walked to the
bookstore. A mile away. Salt rimes on my winter boots. I
could fix this. The book so pale and green. Irradiating mind.
Bleaching coral in desalinated waters. Nobody
knows how I wrapped myself. Limbs red trudging in the ever
to correct a spill. The frozen bitch tundra. I ask air to punish.
My wrists not throbbing. Negative capability a sheen
around bone. A book in his house filled with rain.
My foot bruised at the ball. No credit on my metrocard.
The sense it takes to be senseless in love. The plunder
and plagiarism of form. Effort. A puddle on the table. All I’ve
done with my life less perfect than the puddle on the
table. His wrists torquing my throat. Thumbs plunged into
the soft hard larynx. A pearl. I purple. The letting go. I’m joking.
But which joke and for whom? My breath the laughing viewer?
The book in his house? I replaced it with the same book.
He gave me the drowned book. Threw it with ever my enough.
I a mule bending for it. The sleek of me in perfect disappearance.
Here. The book in my house. Open. A wind dying off.
Natalie Eilbert is the author of Indictus, winner of Noemi Press’s 2016 Poetry Prize, as well as the poetry collection, Swan Feast (Bloof Books, 2015). Her work has appeared in POETRY, Granta, The New Yorker, The Brooklyn Rail, and elsewhere. She was the recipient of the 2016 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellowship at University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a focus on environmental justice. She lives in Chicago.