Two poems by Rikki Santer


after the sculpture by Kristen Newell

Let us say after months and months,
slanted and stained, you turn
yourself inside out to travel far
from wanting, you plant your feet
to elongate your stance, you scale
serpentine steps snaking up
your calves, you channel dark
melodies from the mulberry tree
rooted into the cavern of your
belly. Let’s say your collar and
chest are dotted with tiny windows
where inside, levels deep, a hive
of galaxies sparked then seared
and you strain to conjure
the synapse of a few sparkling
chapters—Tinkertoy bridges,
sock monkey playmates, whispers
of your nickname smooth as
jasper skipped across a pond.
Say you nod to the nothing
more than this husk of you
and looking outward, arms
above your shoulders, hands
clasped behind your head,
your hinged face swings
open, final fulcrum,
to release all of us
you will leave behind.


I could be a raspberry torte cake, an embroidered, bejeweled bimah, a
bobble-headed Shylock, a tattooed ghost, ribcage-wrought. How to pasture
where I’m from. Luna moth blown from the shaggy bark. Tribe of dancing
aphids powdering branches. Grandmother cradles a tiny klezmer band in
her apron. Uncle assembles a flamingo menorah in the front yard. I
imagine Anne Frank’s shepherd crook leading me to safety in her
sheepfold. Mother turns her dreidel paper weight to gimel so everyone
could win.

Rikki Santer recipient of six Pushcart and three Ohioana and Ohio Poet book award nominations as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, her eleventh poetry collection, Stopover, which is in conversation with the original Twilight Zone series, was just published by Luchador Press.