“Dwell” by Gabrielle Brant Freeman

Shoulders shake beneath my pressing palms, you angel
of tangled blades and skin, you angel of need, of voice
that leaps from skies slippery in stars like thunder.
Outside, Spanish moss fringes in wind on its way to water,
clutches at crooked trunks, at crooked branches stripped
of leaves. Beneath me, you are made flesh, fallen in psalm.

Hands slide down my smooth sides, fingers press praise
into skin. Outside, the river rolls on as though you, seraph,
are not burning here, as though your touch does not strip
me bare, as though I am not scorched by your voice
as you lift it and speak my name out over the water,
as you cry out over the current, as you call the thunder.

Crash and Roar and Boom and Clap! Thunder
rumbles up through us like the rising scree of cicada song
after they unearth wet wings, cling hard to bark, bathe
themselves in warmth. Belly to belly, we tremble. You angel
of arms and heart, you light-bringer. You voice
the words that dismantle me, sacred words that peel, that strip.

Love. Stripped
down thunderbolt
Outside, green tree frogs squonk their night song,
join the southern chorus frogs’ trill. Divine messengers
heralding rain.

There is the water of the river and the water of the rain,
and, in the deep of night, there is only the brief strip
before one becomes the other like heaven
pushes into sky, the liminal space of sturm
und drang. Urge and drive, we dissolve in symphony.
You angel of pulse and breath, we are voiced

together. Outside, the world turns soft into dawn, its voices
change to birds and nattering squirrels. The river
rambles, burbles around snags at its banks, sings its song
eternal. We listen. Light filters through trees in strips
that stripe our skin. The cat purrs like distant thunder,
stretches in a spot of sun. This morning is splendor, you angel.

May our voices flood this house forever. Storm and surge and strip
and skin forever. Tide and lightning, blessed thunder
bellow. May you kiss me into hymn forever. Make me an angel.

Gabrielle Brant Freeman’s poetry has been published in many journals, including Barrelhouse, One, Scoundrel Time, and storySouth. She was nominated for a Pushcart in 2017, and she won the 2015 Randall Jarrell Competition. Press 53 published her book, When She Was Bad, in 2016. Read more: http://gabriellebrantfreeman.squarespace.com/.

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