mantra review

Spring 2018


the bower ii

shadows sway behind the closed door of our love.
when the golden river does not seep
beneath the crack like a beckoning bell
and the naked trees trip into each other
without shame, i pull
the veils around my eyes, clench denial
in my fist like an axehandle.
the branches grind against each other—
splinters among the fire of fallen leaves.

the wastes gave us no warning when they sprang from the desolate earth.
no quarter for the wilted—not when
the garden has been reduced to ash,
not when the grass is matted and gray,
not when the ivy has turned to bone
rattling on the trellis, plucked
irreverently by the wind’s cackling fingers.
hacked into jagged fragments—trampled
and newly barren; where are we now,
washed in the monochrome,
the sudden cold, the nonlight?
drifting like chunks of dirty ice
on the black river, caught in
the season’s creaking turn.

the desecration of the bower, the verdant shield
stripped of its crest, all faults
exposed to friction, forcing us back
behind the barricades, hissing,
hiding in the artificial warmth from the wintering sun.
grief hems us in as the concrete slices the field into strips—
slipping away, turning the broad backs of our indifference into mirrors.
even as you came to me in the shadows
and begged my forgiveness with your body, blossoms
push the decay aside, chewing steadily through the rot—
transmutation and deliverance in the dying.
rebirth implies the chasm, oblivion’s gaping maw,
a period of unknowing between the striking of the match
and the fire’s final gasp, as if existence was not
a seamless and eternal transition,
to live, a liminal space.

a beat between our palms as the roots
braid together again—now the heat in the waters
pushes the tough hide of ice aside with a resonant snap
like an ancient oak splitting down the middle.
i cast the knotted thread into the echo
and let the petals drip from my fingertips.
i would love you better emptyhanded,
without offering or expectation,
bare as the dust where the bushes once stood,
waiting, breathless, for the new growth to come.

allen serafini is a white nonbinary trans guy artist from the chicago area. they have self-published 5 collections of poetry. their work has been featured in glo worm press's & thriving collection and boost house's macro: an anthology of image macros. they are in god's hands.

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