The Once and Future Cult Member
I could only become a saint once I realized
that all fish think they're flying. They don’t understand
the unknowable depth of the waters which suspend
them, can’t feel a change in the tide when the tide
is the only thing keeping them alive and afloat.
Are my gills as holy as theirs? Are my fins as loved
by God because a man chose me to be chosen?
Behind my eyelids I am still drowning in that ocean,
the Lord’s bathtub, held under by well-meaning hands
in a ritual of suffocation to bring me back to life
and I’ve never stopped dripping. I’m a safety hazard.
I slip through the world leaving dew drops
in my wake, puddles in the beds of my lovers
who say it’s just water and I don’t know how
to tell them that it’s wine, that it’s blood,
that I’ve probably ruined their sheets and I know
their bodies can dry but mine can’t, I can’t,
I’ve been drenched for as long as I can remember
by the unknowable nature of the water made holy
by lives lived in guilt, lives lived on the inside
of the outside. And I still take a sip when I can.
Still breathe it in to the lungs which learned to take
oxygen in many forms, quickly but never completely.
Once you’ve said goodbye, the cult of losing
is the last one left for you. The only one.
And did you know that poetry is the language
of the unconscious? That escape was in the pages
that I read before I ever wrote them?
And have I told you how the fish still follow me?
I am still marching to Zion. I can still hear them sing.
Why I Sleep So Much in November
Because October reminded me that the orange
jacket I bought at Goodwill last fall shrank
in the dryer, of the weight words carry
in the winter. Because straight people call
it cuffing season. Because Twitter tells me I was born
under a Scorpio Sun which means pressure
to have fun on my birthday and to be sexy
and mysterious, two things I only know
how to be in the spring. Because I’ve learned to love
sycamore trees and other things that leave.
Like the first girl who took her shirt off
for me, who moved to Spokane a week later.
Like summer, when there’s comfort
at the bottom of the deep end of the pool,
water rushing in to the loudest places
inside of me, suspending the whispers until winter
comes and freezes them away. The weight of the words.
Cold imposters in my mouth. Because the smell
of the car’s heater reminds me of last November.
Because blowing smoke out the window reminds me
I can choose to be empty. Because we all
choose different ways to keep ourselves warm.
Caroline Butler is a poet living in Tallahassee, Florida. She is pursuing a degree in Creative Writing from Florida State University. Her work has appeared in Ink & Nebula and Peculiars Magazine and is forthcoming in Before I Leave. She is the social media intern at Rose Quartz Magazine. She tweets @car0linebutler.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.