National Poetry Month Day 25: Natalie Eilbert





Lay a Lionlimb Against Me


It began as a white root, my notions
grand. I tell my people, Open, they do

not. I considered what it meant
to live on a threshold, the teenclub

a lozenge in my head, miracle limbs.
What does it mean to dance without

knowing the conclusion of the body’s
form, to learn to grind because two

hands grip ass cheeks as Tanto Metro
blares I don’t know ‘bout you but it ain’t

a crime, the hips shut-up swing, friends
who nod and grip and shiver among

shuttering lights, tongue down throat.
I slide strawberry slices in my mouth,

the tart guidance trailing brightness.
It’s the memory we’re always after,

I tell them, as they pitch their backs
and take eat in the dirt, the ground

a kind of past the way my love for
girlhood lingers unremarkably. Bones,

isn’t it, a thought in reverse, that
they scatter sidewalks after rotisserie,

that they can be human and blue
washed to the shore, an anti-ode.

I learned of rotisserie early, a girl
swallowing light in both directions.

It was a joke to push the thumb in,
zipper a riff on couch and succor.

It’s the fucking we’re always after,
the jerry-rigged plan to strip bare

every part purity could not.
The poem wants to be quiet for once

but it hums a melody behind
a smothering palm as it also wants

blood. Dear Sara, Dear Catherine,
remember when you saw my boots

shin-down in the bathroom stall,
the legs glowing interplanetary.

We do not learn what it means
to make light of events. Glutted

world forced inside, my god, a prism
we aren’t clear we need to forgive.


Photograph of Natalie Eilbert by Mark Koranda.

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 or is forthcoming from POETRY, Granta, The Jewish Current, the New Yorker, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, The Brooklyn Rail, and elsewhere. She was the recipient of the 2016 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellowship at University of Wisconsin–Madison and is the founding editor of The Atlas Review. She lives and teaches in Madison, Wisconsin. More from this author →