Christina Beasley

Hermeneutics

I prayed to Hermes because I was a miscreant
and he was wonderful and deathless. I sought
dreams and he carried them in a satchel fragrant
with cattle and pomegranates. I hoped every night
to awake as a similar nymph, voice radiant as lit marble
or lyre strings. To lust as he loved Aphrodite, learn
the tricks to his tongue; commit intricate thieveries
in honor of spectacular gods.

There are few who would permit me to lead them
to Hades. I do not have the appropriate credentials;
did not invent fire, did not court crones
or deify tortoises. I am neither Greek nor ornate.

If I were a marvelous orator, I would fashion a winged
hat of words. I would build my own myth from mayhem,
follow strange and untouchable psychopomps. I would be
a conductor of reveries; I would never be silent or solitary.
Each transgression would be the stuff of song before
structure—a brilliant bedlam—but instead I am
me; translations meticulously inarticulate.

On forgetting

We knew the name of the town when we were children.
There was a farm, a bank on the corner, everything
was defined, precise, limited. We knew the profile
of the town and its unassuming curvature. The taste
of its gurgling town sweat bustling down its sewer
veins, its snow dandruff, its embarrassing noises
upon waking. Its tendency to reveal too much,
its poetry. Its size shifted slightly over the years,
it became willing to breathe a little. It came,
and it came again. It understood loving, that
glorious town. The town was sometimes
a man but always a woman. I could find
the town if I really needed it. I knew its
numbers better than my social security
but not so well as my date of birth.
Its luxuries, its whimsical softness.
I knew, I know. I knew.

Author Portrait

Christina Beasley is a poet and public servant in Washington, D.C. She received her master’s degree from Georgetown University and is an assistant poetry editor with Barrelhouse. Her poetry has or will appear in Hobart, Obsidian, Collision, The Binnacle, Barrelhouse, Streetlight, and others. She has done residencies with Virginia Quarterly Review, Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Southern Illinois University. She performs regularly with D.C.’s Poetry Brothel.

View the website of Christina Beasley