Natalie Eilbert


Well I spent hours just detailing the hand, the sharp humanity of tendons and veins, my silvering Michelangelo tears I collected in a vial. You can’t imagine the work involved. And how did I do this, make the hand a clean of quiet labor that I’d push deep in my pocket to hold in secret. Well I traveled to the arctic with nothing but canvas on: the goal was to derive sap from a woman’s sleeping body, pain from an arctic fox tongue, thistle from a snow leopard’s bored yawns. I wrapped my body in killed hawks, their beaks graphing a series of directions not to ever be trusted. You can’t imagine how cold it was there in the midst of creation. I bribed the sun to shine by burning feather after feather, the smell singeing my nostrils like a belief in god. Every villager I passed would not open their mouths for the cotton snow inside that could wind out at guard’s down. They knew to fear me, what powers I possessed, long passages of my misery were on either side of that power. Every woman hid from me their girls but I would never touch them though they’ve been sourced before for what miracles they make possible on the tip of each finger. It disturbs me what sacrifices come with such shortcuts. Temptations humanize a reddening greed. I collected my lion’s share of pain and thistle. The sap was another story altogether. What woman can sleep when the hands of a predator are so close. There are few fearless women, and fewer dumb. I was led to a mountain town, where sleep grows pathological with the altitude. What could they do but house me there and in the night I did the deed with the ease of melting frost. In the morning the sleep in their eyes pushed a blunt sun in my heart and I can’t go a day now without needing that delirious anger.

Natalie Eilbert's work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Tin House, Guernica, West Branch, Handsome, Anti-, and many others. Her two chapbooks, Conversation with the Stone Wife (Bloof Books, 2014) and And I Shall Again Be Virtuous (Big Lucks Books, 2014/15) are forthcoming later this year. Her full-length poetry collection, Swan Feast, is forthcoming from Coconut Books in Spring/Summer 2015. She lives and writes in Brooklyn, where she is the founding editor of The Atlas Review.
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