THREE POEMS by Elizabeth Twiddy

The Animal that Lives in Fire

The Animal that Lives in Fire
is a shape I make out in the tile
on the bathroom floor.
Inside the strawberry,
at the center of the Earth,
inside the First Cherokee
is the Animal that Lives in Fire.
Embedded in the pages of the book
my lover reads
is the Animal that Lives in Fire.
It looks out from the windows
of our nonexistence;
it wipes the salt from its lips.
Before us, and after us:
the Animal that Lives in Fire.


By Little

When you lose so much, it is like this:
You search, the way you search the mirror
for home but do not find it——
the way you search the insides
of the building where you can be alone
but do not find it, home. And so,
you avoid them, the things
that should be home, but aren’t——
apart, separate even from your body,
you search outwards, far, at night,
in your car, where you are found
by little white wings startled in your headlights
and stunned on your windshield.


Celan’s Deathfugue

Drown the mouth-hole
Drown and Drown it
In the River there in the River
Where earless, eyeless, perfectly
Voiceless the Pulley
Cranks over the Water
The Pulley-Wheel, the sleepless
Unblinking eye, over which
The Wire runs, the Wire to
No One,
The Faceless Hand
Over the Black Water,
Pulling and Pulling to Drown
The eye-hole, mouth-hole,
The No-One’s key-hole——


I mean these poems to speak to this tragedy in human, emotional terms reflective of the Gulf creatures’ sufferings. The disaster in the Gulf is humongous and overwhelming, and it feels impossible to articulate a response—yet it strikes me that it is a particular human responsibility to try. Look at the photos of the birds soaked in oil off the shores of Louisiana: you will see the suffering in their faces, in their bodies. It is difficult to view these photos, but witnessing is also a part of our responsibility. These are the voiceless.


Elizabeth Twiddy’s first collection of poems is Love-Noise (Standing Stone Books, 2010), and her chapbook, Zoo Animals in the Rain (Turtle Ink Press, 2009), includes several poems that have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Most recently, poems have appeared in Barrow Street, POOL, The Alembic, H_NGM_N, Two Rivers Review, Stone Canoe, Slush Pile, the Australian journal Skive, and elsewhere. She teaches adult poetry workshops at the Downtown Writer’s Center through the Syracuse, New York YMCA, and serves as an editor for the poetry journal The Comstock Review.

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