ON THE CAVE WALL, THE GREAT BLACK BIRD CARRIES A GIRL INTO THE SKY
Whatever the boy had done to her, we’ll never know.
It was just this once, or it wasn’t. When he returned
to the village, how could he explain her absence—
who hadn’t noticed the way he looked at her—
and it was no secret that they’d walked off together
earlier in the afternoon. How to explain how everything
pulsed within him and how she turned away,
dismissing his ardor splayed at river’s edge. And so,
he blamed that tiger of the sky: the one they’d all seen
knock a Gaur—three times its size—dead, with one
soundless blow. Te boy stood with sunset bleeding
into horizon, told how bird drove girl aground,
how her eyes rolled back, like transparent eggs,
and how immediately sand soaked red around,
and as he took a step toward her, it sank talons
into pelvis, carried her away: the story becoming
more real as he told it. And he ran through jungle,
at frst following the shadowed wingspan, which
quickly outpaced him, and then drops of blood,
which fell as fast as his tears, and he stopped
only at clif’s lip where he sobbed. People gathered
and sharpened spears. The girl was gone. Elders
painted the wall. The boy had been so brave.
They’d clip its monstrous wings, set its entrails ablaze.
Women and children wept; hunters raided its nest,
cooked its eggs, set traps, and beat the bird to death.
For weeks, they cut open each eagle’s belly, half
waiting for the girl to emerge whole. Soon the bird
began to pluck elders gathering herbs and children
from felds. Te boy, now a man, dreams of the girl
by the river, how he held her under until she sank,
how she surfaces—cedar-stained, bald, with bulging
eyes—to press her swollen black lips to his own
This selection comes from Girl Torpedo, available from Agape Editions. Our curator for August is Saba Syed Razvi.
Emari DiGiorgio is the author of Girl Torpedo, the winner of the 2017 Numinous Orison, Luminous Origin Literary Award, and The Things a Body Might Become. She’s the recipient of the Auburn Witness Poetry Prize, the Ellen La Forge Memorial Poetry Prize, the Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize, RHINO’s Founder’s Prize, and a poetry fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She’s received residencies from the Vermont Studio Center, Sundress Academy of the Arts, and Rivendell Writers’ Colony. She teaches at Stockton University, is a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Poet, is the Senior Reviews Editor for Tupelo Quarterly, and hosts World Above, a monthly reading series in Atlantic City, NJ.
Saba Syed Razvi is the author of the collections In the Crocodile Gardens and heliophobia, as well as the chapbooks Limerence & Lux, Of the Divining and the Dead, and Beside the Muezzin’s Call & Beyond the Harem’s Veil. Her poems have appeared in journals such as The Offending Adam, Diner, TheTHE Poetry Blog’s Infoxicated Corner, The Homestead Review, NonBinary Review, 10Ã—3 plus, 13th Warrior Review, The Arbor Vitae Review, and Arsenic Lobster, and others, as well as in anthologies such as Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace (forthcoming), Voices of Resistance: Muslim Women on War Faith and Sexuality, The Loudest Voice Anthology, The Liddell Book of Poetry, Political Punch: Contemporary Poems on the Politics of Identity, The Rhysling Anthology, and Dreamspinning. Her works have been nominated for the 2017 Elgin Award, the Bettering American Poetry Awards, The Best of the Net Award, and the Rhysling Award, have appeared on the 2018 Stoker Award’s preliminary ballot and have received a 2015 Independent Best American Poetry Award. She earned her PhD in Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Southern California in 2012. She is currently working as an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Houston in Victoria, TX, where in addition to working on scholarly research on interfaces between science and contemporary poetry, she is researching Sufi poetry in translation, writing new poems and fiction, and developing community based-programs to highlight poetry and contemporary literature in the Crossroads region of Texas.