Two Poems by Chris Emslie

Two Poems by Chris Emslie

The lunar landscape is no place for these feelings

The planet is sending out two unmanned craft
to determine what you did to me
I am requesting a copy
of their findings

which I would send to you
if I had your address
or any stamps

I was still in the bed
when you were drawn across it
like a soiled dress shirt
I had been there so long
my thickness was the same as the sheets

For a long time you were in the window
a bent shoulder or the solar system

or both
replacing me in the cratered mattress
easy as a turned spoon of sugar
a water-balloon to the face
the swagger of cement

The planet released its telemetry this morning

Apparently you can be seen in my face
because that’s where you’ve been hiding
in my eyes and my chin

in my hands
that are still sculpting you



Little shadow sitting up

in bed, in light                         by the fire

that should be flattering

but isn’t. I have                       in my hand

nothing for you, go back

where the wall                         stained with light

meets the window. That’s

what we agreed                       many times, swore

upon, the day you crawled

out of my lungs                       because you wanted

to comfort that old woman.


She was weeping                    such ancient tracts,

like rivers must weep. Her

fleece was blotted                   darker than soil

with all that water, and all

my words dried up                  in my throat

at once. In their place, you

coughed yourself                    hands over knees

into living, lingered where

my silence could                     pause, and then

do nothing. You returned

plump with grief,                    feet tucked in

and picking at my days:


the dread of snow                   on the branches

and cancelled trains, the

sun plucked off                       like feathers from

my skin and the footprint

between the trees—                the great bird

howling out long nights

chasing a shadow                    that’s chasing me

[1] In Norse mythology, the vardøger is a spirit double whose appearance precedes a living person, resulting in witnesses believing they’ve seen or heard the person before he or she actually arrives.