Two Poems

Poetry / Natalie Eilbert

In Defense of Breaking the Terms of Lease

In a line of Natalies, I am to keep us close.
Insofar as I possess the wealthiest resources.
Insofar as I am and will remain my elder.
To my pretty fourth grader, listen: Continue
to wear denim shorts, hum My Favorite Things,
and tell them what happened. Remember
you are using your hand as a model to draw a hand,
that your eyes are beyond the stick figure model.
You have worked busily to develop the body
on the page. What I mean is, you should not believe
you failed my leadership despite what he made of you.
You play chopsticks and a nonsense song, let the cat
sphinx his limbs around your neck to better smell his
collar fur. There is beauty between the feathers
of a bird. It is in the word apteria, warm lye searing
skin into a fixed plane. Do not trust the bad, as you
do not trust the good. When an older neighbor
lifts you to his shoulders and leads your lost yelps
out of the woods, do not use this as a reason
to stay quiet. It is the gentle way in which one
can pluck an apple from a bough and take bite.
You would not pity the lips pricked by pectin.
What do you think forever means now—I’ll tell you.
Forever moves with the question of what happened.
It has no respect for the answer.

Planet Nine

That we are always searching for certainty and doomsday

is always two breaths away. When you showed me the news.

I paced. Worry masking a glee. Cioran says we do not rush

toward death, we flee the catastrophe of birth. I have hated

my every attempt at narrative. It is a lie I impart, the easy

method of control that suggests I am guided by measured

factors. I am not guided by measured factors. As my primary

vocation, I deceive. My sense of the universe is a secret

as much as it is a threat. I lock eyes with strangers, their faces

a green flash, a series of accidents. In all my stories, an agent

removes me from the scene. I disrupt and wake up. The same

green sheets. My father is planet nine. My brother is planet nine.

My other brother is planet nine. My mother is planet nine.

I disagree with the elements that expose my lines. When I

wake, I have already left. When I die, there is a brief pause.

Death is a matter of resolving the source of light. The sun shines.

The problem of proximal blood is its distal limbs, the stunted

aftermath. When I live, I blame a body of water. My sex

is a hypothetical circle. What I want to communicate

is the breadth of my irony. I watched a trapped bird fly over

and over into a skylight as a child and I realized in its mind

there was no equation: not a bird, not wings, not flight.

It was an object in a disrupted frequency. When I blinked,

I was an object in a disrupted frequency. The problem of proximal

birds is its distal metaphors, because this was less figurative

than an act of transference. An object lesson in our attempt

at reasonable life, a shadow in a smaller shadow. Debt is a kind

of blood again, again. I didn’t want the theory of our end debunked.

Wasn’t there joy for the bird whose freedom was a hard bold line.

I have changed my life, ruthlessly. I fear I have already survived it.

Natalie Eilbert is the author of Indictus, winner of Noemi Press's 2016 Poetry Contest, slated for publication in late 2017, as well as the debut poetry collection, Swan Feast (Bloof Books, 2015). She is the recipient of the 2016 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellowship at University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she is serving a one-year academic appointment. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The New Yorker, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, jubilat, and elsewhere. She is the founding editor of The Atlas Review.