Two Poems by CD Eskilson

CD Eskilson

CD Eskilson

CD Eskilson is a trans poet, editor, and translator living in Arkansas. They are a recipient of the C.D. Wright/Academy of American Poets Prize, as well as a Best of the Net, Best New Poets, and a Pushcart Prize nominee. Their debut poetry collection, Scream / Queen, is forthcoming from Acre Books.


Somewhere in 1944, in the Ardennes outside
  of Bastogne, my grandfather spends Christmas Eve
crawling half-buried through shrapnel and snow.

  He drags frostbitten feet as he scrambles up
earthworks, passes by crushed willows

  while deafening flashes scar above him.
Other boys swallowed by light shows. Years later
  he retraces each inch he had dragged

himself before bed—a terror I struggle to picture.
  The first time my lover blew up at me

and every time after, their hands bruised a frontline
  down the field of my back. Rage a singed
muzzle jammed into my brain. I’ve crawled

  down in trenches to maneuver through razing,
hugged the floor while debris rained above.

  When I walk down my grandfather’s hallway
I shudder passing what once was his room.
  I know how war comes at night in a dream.



Nocturne Entering the Age of Fishes

One of those nights when your now-ex decided to call
          and you tended the blame for what was wrong all

sewn at your feet, that field with each sorry you’d let grow
          throughout high school and into college now

while phrases like enby and soft butch and she / they
          burned on the Xeroxed pages of readings to say

sound familiar? though it was hidden from the now-ex
          who wouldn’t go to a trans march, shut their eyes during sex

because of how pretty and girlish you’d gotten at school—
          what if you don’t answer? Offer silence to that cruel

voice and its echo that has turned inside you so long
          that want’s so impossible to hear. You walk among

the oaks lining campus, pass the quad and Greek theater
          and keep going, trek way back in time until saltwater

cradles each animal, each lungfish with globular bounds.
          Here bodies are morphing and creatures’ sounds

garble: the placoderms, toothless for now, click a greeting
          while trilobites chirr at your nameless shape. Fleeting

fins and ditched shells all float past you in a soupy sea
          where transition means thriving, your surviving is key.