A Poem by Kathryn Merwin

Kathryn Merwin

Kathryn Merwin

Kathryn Merwin is a poet from Washington, DC. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Carve, CutBank, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, and Sugar House Review, among others. She has been awarded the Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize, the Blue Earth Review Annual Poetry Prize, the 2017 Sixfold Award, and has been nominated for a Pushcart. She is currently living in the Pacific Northwest while pursuing her MFA at Western Washington University and serving as Poetry Editor for the Bellingham Review.

Sleeper Hold

Tell me something with your eastern mouth. Tell me about Jesus

    or America or the shape of the ocean until the light kicks

awake; I can see it now. The magician, red-gloved

    in the still marble hall. The rabbit, the gun, 

your man-shaped mask. Drinking your thick cognac,

   drunk on disappearing. You wanted a sorceress, 

but you found a heathen. You wanted a woman 

     to saw in half, found a girl 

made out of snakes. Let me tell you the stories of all my broken bones,

   the name I gave to each fissure and crack. The shape and color 

of the pain that day. You dream in four-part symphonies: 

   the windy prayer of your lungs in the quiet dark. 

I dream of purpling the soft whisper of your mouth.