“Lodge” & Others

Campbell Mann


Someone dreamt one night that my long hair hanged him like a noose.
What could anyone say to that?
Cold night, cold morning.
Pine sap in the dawn.
Owls in the woods preening blood from their bodies &
Desire is the picked-clean spine.
In the small-skied old world I do not speak old names aloud:
I have seen such a terrible thing as
my wet red heart wrung out like a rag & when it bolts from me
like a stag in the dark I can only cry out:
who have eaten
from my hands this day must hear me.
I will enter onto Death through the north-most curtain,
my body split open like deer.
Somewhere else I have seen this-
fluorescence of broken skin in black water.
Double-formed strangers
who shall not be seen again.
Billy the Kid in Wellfleet

He is proudest of a marksman.
The way he means it is:
Violence is the oldest tongue of the body.
As in: Someone took up like a mantle my young father’s admiration
& made that ardent boy confuse cruelty for honor & gunslinging glory.
As in: Potential is kinetic is anything only understood in sight.
As in: Being small is something of a miracle God could not afford either of us.
To love my father is to hold a bolt of fire.
In another life, I believe I will be an ear of corn:
swaddled golden baby in hair-silk blonde as my sister’s,
but still
I was there in that first moment of the world,
when lightning over the ragged ghost of Monomoy
rang the dark like gunfire.
Did I want that shotgun in my hands?
No, and yes-
the Nauset wind eats ships into bone; I distill
malevolence from damp.
My father puts a hand on my shoulder
& imagines himself an old west lawman-
all gunsmoke & Copland & his own tumultuous heart.
And I at once, his only silver son.
Ti néztek, én nézlek.
-Béla Balázs, A kékszakállú herceg vára
In one version of the story, I make a wish to have no memory.
Imagine this: I do not ask you to open any doors.
Blue-skinned anemic in bathwater.
Tell me again.
What did it feel like to watch the moon go blue with desire?
In another version, I am returned as the beloved
and you must imagine the first naming of flowers:
Aconite. Agrimony. Asphodel.
Absence as flower-shaped shadow.
Imagine that something of the body can outrun itself.
In one version, we only gaze upon each other and never speak,
the hollow in the woods pinning our mouths always open.
Tell me aloud.
Does it end with the click of a door lock, like every story?
I will not be that again, nor the opening of anything.
Campbell Mann (Boston Conservatory at Berklee ‘20) is a poet and mezzo soprano from Lyme, Connecticut. From 2017-2020 she served as editor of The Garden. Her work has been awarded by the Kaji Aso Studio in Boston, Massachusetts, and was featured in the 2019 and 2020 Boston Intercollegiate Poetry Festival.