Sitting in her mother’s white wooden chair
my mother eyes me up and down, tells me
the medication I’m taking is making me fat
but yes, I know you need it. Like lipstick
smudged on a glass, she studies my hairline,
my father’s nose. I will never be her daughter.
I will always be her almost-beautiful son.
But as she stands to dump wine in the sink
and the flurry outside morphs into blizzard,
how could she know that my mind’s shaved horses
are out stampeding again. How could she know
that when I see them each night, in a dripping
brocade of meadow, I learn again how pain
becomes easy when administered by so much beauty,
how the sandhills draped in locusts step off
into silence before they step into madness,
how the goathead tied to the alder
no longer needs to have a body to sing.
How the landscape assembles itself
as if it were real, because it wants to be real,
how the body tries and tries and tries
to attach to the flowering hook of the sun,
and the horses don’t sit with me, they don’t
tell me anything. They carry me out to the lake
and they trample me down in the water
until they know I am finally still.
Matthew Gellman poems are featured or forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Narrative, Ninth Letter, Passages North, Lambda Literary’s Poetry Spotlight, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. He has received awards and fellowships from the New York State Summer Writers Institute, the Academy of American Poets and the Vermont Studio Center, and was awarded a Brooklyn Poets Fellowship in the fall of 2018. He was also included in Narrative’s “30 Below 30” list in 2018. Matthew holds an MFA from Columbia University and currently teaches at Hunter College. He lives in Brooklyn.