Nikoletta Nousiopoulos is an on-again/off-again adjunct who resides in southeastern Connecticut. Some of her poetry has appeared in Tammy, Pioneertown Literary Journal, Thin Noon, Meadowland Review, Harpur Palate, and others. Find her @mama_niko_.
This poem was longlisted for the 2019 Peach Gold in Poetry with guest judge Dorothea Lasky.
by Nikoletta Nousiopoulos
We need to create how we live because we need
Our baby to sleep. During the night, he growls like a daisy
Machine. He cracks into the most perfect, blue apple.
Our alarm clock measures acid with a suffering cup. Here,
Look at this painting we bought for you. Do you see
The little mushrooms lined up like boring soldiers?
It’s okay to curl up like a bean to fill the world’s
Empty pods. Even the best of mothers will tell you this.
The best of fathers will agree. And if a stranger disagrees,
Then he doesn’t know our fairytale: We live in a little house
With a baby boy and a white cat and most nights
It’s quiet off the water, until the train cracks fruit open.
One day you’ll wish you could forget that image. Don’t let
People in the night tell you any differently, for
Most will forget souls dissolve off hungry tongues.
Our hymns sound like violets, and violets wake the baby.
Even if they bring violets for a newborn, the mother,
In her bathrobe, will still cry into her hands. Can’t you understand
How all this purple hurts? A woman who knows how to bloom,
Inside out, can count the organs, count the messy parts.
Look, here: there was a heart. And here: there was a vital organ.
A symphony plays wave lengths, or just ocean waves,
Which numbs the stiches out. The coldest days create
Snowflakes that feel like rage. They taste like planets
On the tongue of a deer. Now this poem is similar to a lullaby.
If the deer comes towards you, walk into the fire.
If he runs away, don’t cry, unless you want to cry. But
You’ll risk losing all these lovely, floating stars. In the crescent
Of our sky, there is a little curve to rock in. Where
There are footprints, there are flames to tremble from.
Will you call this a mess of twigs, or simply an orchard
Your mother bled for you? Behind rainclouds, a stirring
Of dopamine can become an animal kind of ritual.