“Danse macabre”

I. Love

I feel the tide moving in
under my sheets
the swelling of my organs
this daimon pushing, pulling,
as I keep breathing,
back and forth.

II. Progeny

I have a silvery daughter,
I plucked her from a birch tree
when the moon was new
During the night she turns into a fox
She is of my kind
As she roams the forest
she makes herself invisible.

III. Ancestors

The creator of wisdom by violence
came into the world through no one
Cropped from the beginning
it was first his grave that gave him a name
and connected him with himself,
the ones before, the ones after.
I saw a photograph of him today
Is it true he ever existed?
But I have proof of it by
the things he handed me down: a house,
a fire-soul, an indigo streak of madness,
the knowledge of why and how to kill.

IV. Birth

She arrived as a stranger,
no blood spilled at her birth
only black bile
She was given the curse
of resuscitating the dead
who would mistake her
white hands for sex
Meant to stand on the edge,
each time she entered,
the world began to tremble.

V. Sex

In the near complete darkness
there were rosy flashes
Someone told you a good-night story
while you learned that body and soul were separate.

A fly found its final resting place on the steak
in the restaurant he took you
Later, on the back seat of the car parked in a clearing,
you kept thinking it was really a peppercorn.

Surprised at how simple it was to gain and discard power
as they told you they could not do without that curve,
that scent, that understanding
sex turned into a social experiment of international lovers
Three languages in a row made a busy afternoon.

The familiar and the crazy would single you out
knowing they would meet what matched and cured them
You found darkness or light, but never both, in any of them.
And while you grew not restless, but old, in search of a body
who contained all – you continued to be soul and mind,
flesh and skeleton, tenderness, and savagery, earnest and,
always, game.

VI. Self

The woman inside the looking glass
was chosen by the one
standing naked before it,
a deliberate act of creation,
forcefully made to grow from the seeds,
not planted by the ancestors
not eaten by the ravens.
Sometimes, she touches her imago
to assure herself of her existence
It’s thus the quicksilver began to
slowly flow over into her body
providing her with wit and reflective coating.

When she’ll step away from it
her light will be mercury
and those who’ll look inside her
will only ever see themselves.

VII. Death

Confused,
the soul will stay close to the body
for forty days,
haunting the living,
for this is the only place it knows
Then, the undertaker will boil
a hollow corpse
detaching flesh from bones,
cut delicate marquetries into them and
lock them in a box to keep as treasure.
Relieved,
the soul will disperse its atoms
and never have been there at all.

— Alexandra Fössinger is a German/Italian native speaker from Italy. Having lived in Germany, Sweden, and France, she is fluent in several languages; her poems, which she writes mainly in English, often express those multilingual experiences. Her writing has appeared/is forthcoming in Tears in the Fence, morphrog, Wild Court, bind, Mono, and others.