Rae Gouirand

Arils on Velvet

I am thrust through myself in this dark we take up,
deep-eyed as the red bulb

exploded on its branch. I too am opened.
I too watch it quartered

that gemmed torture of seed. Watch it sieve—
watch the hand separate

hull from garnet. Pray the cuts of these pupils
might find what is sharp—

there are those who will continue to call one
by name. See these pips. To claim

a clear space one need only split. Sometimes it kills
to marry a definitive thrum, those

hundreds of nows. More granular than grenade
or grenadine—you crown

yourself uncounted. Stand in the place none
describes untouched. May each

catch as that candle in scarlet transparency
against the rub of the couch,

leaving no margins, no room for belief. Once
fruit is set it clamors in its chamber

until it bursts. Choose among these those seeds
you will eat. Most are neat

and hold a stain as dark as any history, as any
commandment we’d be stunned to read.

At the Rough Table

There are mornings come each easing
when we almost breathe those dreams—rosemary wreaths

before open windows, felt surfaces rushed
by some more tender breeze. In the turkey feather, in

the deserted hive, her even tone returning
that name first given you, the last wild lace twisting

for its underside. Some daughters stand
in the still of autumn like slant or traveling light.

I have long wished to wake you from it,
to open your ears and then your palms as might

shaking chimes—for I am moved, and
willing to let this day as I have all my others,

to breathe between garlands of chiles
as they dry. It is early yet but the balloons are already

dropping east, goldenrod and marigold, scarlet
and cobalt, copper and maple and umber and thunderclap

and beyond their distant stripes
fog draws unspeakable ink over our valley. I say,

again. I say, unbelievable. At neither point
expecting our words will meet. For now we are locked

as the knots in this wood, this blackberry,
this naked lady, translucent onion, black-eyed susan—

I can gesture to this day only, deliberate
only its roughest seams. Wind on the palm is for many

almost textureless, the cracked husk
finished, not the studded blink of meaning.

I want to stand in the yard
with the year’s nearing mess of leaves and press this

to you—to trace the grain of the table
beneath which so many edges are curling, to remember

the ceaselessness that awakens us each
morning, that submits each verse of our living needs.

Author Portrait

Rae Gouirand is the author of two collections of poetry, Open Winter (winner of the Bellday Prize, Bellday Books, 2011) and Glass is Glass Water is Water (forthcoming from Spork Press in October), as well as the chapbook Must Apple (winner of the Oro Fino Chapbook Competition, forthcoming from Educe Press this summer). Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Conjunctions, Crazyhorse, diode, A Dozen Nothing, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Rumpus, Under a Warm Green Linden, ZYZZYVA, and many other journals and anthologies nationwide. She leads several long-running workshops in poetry and prose in northern California and online and lectures in the Department of English at University of California, Davis.