2 Poems by Rebecca Valley

IN THE PLANETARIUM

Men look at me with their moon faces. 
Doors are not doors, they are mouths 
Thick juicy plum tongues, my teeth
against their thin purple skins

I have been told that space is very cold. As a child 
I stood at the edge of a lake in winter. The lake was 
a field. The lake looked out over a forgotten corner of New York.  
Often men drove their trucks out into the middle 
and dug their own graves. I threw a silver ring across the ice and watched it 
skitter, legs like a little blue beetle’s. 

I shiver. With my fishing pole I can hook the fruit from 
our crabapple tree and shake it loose for deer to eat. 
I give now because I know all I’ve taken and will keep taking. 
I see a moon through the steam, which gives a loose light like 
a lamp left on in another room.

The moon-faced men wear their undertaker suits. 
And I am still in my funeral clothes: blue dress, blue coat, blue shoes. 
Still, when I sit in the dark with my eyes up there is no god.
Millions of tiny stars making patterns with each other. 

AT THE BOTTOM OF A WELL

There is a little boy speaking 
into his fist     If I thought the rabbits
would come and whisper their 
mythologies    I would have stopped   the car
Now their satellite dish ears tune to the channels of 
a soft grey god whose fur the boy brushes with his fingers

If the truth is       a soft apron      
That we can set the tapwater on fire   
This is Mother's magic trick        flames
linger in her hair

         The boy 
presses his mouth into the dirt
Cheeks are meant to be pockets into which we place     
our most prized possessions       
                          see: Children who swallow marbles to become more transparent

The rabbit god is nervous and because of this, 
cherished

I hold up my nose to the wind in the early evening and I can smell 
hands buried deep in the earth 
When I try to explain that standing 
next to death is the only way we can begin to understand 
you tell me that some things do not 
        get easier with practice  
While Mother sleeps the boy waits
counting the wet rhythms of her breath

Rebecca Valley is a poet and essayist from Saint Albans, Vermont. Her poetry and non-fiction have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Rattle, The Boiler, and elsewhere. She is an MFA Candidate in Poetry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she teaches College Writing. She also serves as editor-in-chief of Drizzle Review, a book review site with a focus on minority authors and books in translation. Her first chapbook, The Bird Eaters, was released by dancing girl press in 2018. You can find more of her work at: www.rebeccavalley.com.

Elijah Tubbs