“Pentacost” – Poetry by Emily O’Neill

calligraffiti_of_fire.400
Calligraffiti of Fire – Brion Gysin, 1986

One of the 5 poems by Emily O’Neill in our Fall 2014 issue is “Pentacost,” a song of towering flame and ghostly visions.

{ X }

I WAS TOO YOUNG WHEN THE HOUSE CAUGHT FIRE TO RUN.

I hid in the bathtub, a tower of flame
around me as the shower curtain turned ash
& the ash undressed itself & kissed my skin & the porcelain
grew warm as a sun-baked river stone. Ghosts are the only city I’ve seen

since childhood. They stand straighter than buildings, sigh
louder than a house settling in the suburbs. Ghosts have street between them
we call space and airports we call hauntings where they take off & land
in, on, & around us, disturbing all our night rituals. A bath will never
warm my bones the way the oven can, so I crawl inside & leave

the front door wide.  No guests beyond the dead
come to stay. I’ve been burying letters in the mud
because rivers cannot close their ears

when someone is weeping. The bathroom is the only temple
I have left.  I press my face to the honeycomb floor, waiting

quiet for the dead & their backwards sun come to swallow every day
into its slippery heat; waiting for the hive to drop.
for the whole swarm to sting me.

{ X }

IMG_1535EMILY O’NEILL is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems and stories can be found in Electric Cereal, Gigantic Sequins, and Split Rock Review, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of Yes Yes Books’ Pamet River Prize and forthcoming in 2014. You can pick her brain at http://emily-oneill.com.

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