Visiting his Aunt, Christmas 2002
(Green Holly Man)
The rivers have frozen, yet beneath the ice,
turtles and fish swim in slow motion—
a silent ballet, undistracted by the jubilant world.
At night, we skate beneath stars
that pirouette closer. The motion above
and below suspends us as if we were fish,
struggling to breathe, struggling
to keep from becoming stones.
Last year, trying to escape the cold—
we snuck off to the barn,
to hear the lowing of the animals.
But the dark with its mossy warmth
greeted us with another legend,
and the green holly man startled us
from his perch up in the rafters.
This night, we are cagey, fearless.
A flask of whiskey has made us bold.
You tie up my laces, wrap a long red scarf
round and round.
You kiss my forehead, warm my neck
with wool muffled breath.
We skate through a skeleton of trees,
sentinels to a deeper forest. We stop
at a boulder we know by its graffiti,
pause to take a swig, your eyes merry
as you tell me to look up at the cobwebbed sky.
We’ve dared each other before. I suck
your bottom lip, taste the smoky malt.
Birds mate in the trees, branches fill with eyes.
Your arms are thorned as you pass
the flask. Your eyes glow red.
The trees rustle, your face scratches
as you kiss me, whispering “Happy Christmas.”
I remember the bitter taste of you.
You crush one berry in my mouth.
Laurie Byro‘s short stories and poetry have appeared in dozens of presses including: Loch Raven Review, The Literary Review, Triggerfish, Snakeskin, Redactions, and Chaminade Review, among others. In January 2011, Laurie was named one of the “Poets of the Decade” by the IBPC competition for her 2000-2010 work, amassing more awards than any competing poet. Her chapbook The Bird Artists was published in 2009 and Laurie was Poet Laureate of Allendale, NJ from 2009 to 2013. Her work draws on myth and fairytale and her experiences of foreign places in the years she worked as a travel agent. Laurie has been facilitating Circle of Voices, poetry discussion in NJ for over 15 years, currently at the West Milford Township Library where she is Poet in Residence.
Rhiannon Thorne‘s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Midwest Quarterly, and The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, among others. She is the Managing Editor of cahoodaloodaling and an associate interviewer and a book reviewer atUp the Staircase Quarterly.