Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick has chapbooks out with Thrush Press and Mouthfeel Press. Her work has appeared in Salt Hill, Stirring, Versal, The Texas Observer, Devil’s Lake, Four Way Review, among others. Hardwick is the Poetry Editor at The Boiler Journal. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and her first full-length collection Before Isadore was published by Sundress Publications.
You could have been a saint kissing
babies, mothers’ bellies, on their way
inside clinics. You could have held a gun
to your head. Instead—we never think
of this, how what we create, once breathing,
writes its own stoned path to the top of the mountain.
Mary, before the conception,
before my hard-won freedom,
rose above my head.
That night, there were red-robed monks praying
over bowls of rice milk, simple men smiling
in New York—a series of dreams
where I was walking toward do not
open the chest (or was it a horse trough?)
There was water. I know
for sure because a severed head
does not turn black in soil alone.
The red-robed monks returned
two times the following fall.
I was with another man then.
Even still, in the past,
I carried you, dreamed
the burden of being,
becoming your ship—it went
like this: first, a series of plates
hung from the ceiling and below,
the red-robed men unable
to feast on what was waiting to be
taken. I reached out.
Every hunger grew more in the roof field.
I could not keep myself from wanting.