Poetry: Astral Projection by Eliza Gilbert

In a poem that immediately draws into question the nature of truth and the power of language, Eliza Gilbert wields naming, the very action being interrogated, with grace and precision, piling image after image into an abundant, incisive reflection on “the things we could do to each other.”

Astral Projection

can mean whatever you want it to mean. I mean
impossible things can pour from ignorance, so long
as you mean it. Like how I’m projecting
stars of every color into the polluted dusk, meaning
it. Tossing up a tennis ball, yelling out moon.
To be a christener you must speak loudly
and know nothing. To be a saint you must catch fire
and make nice with it. & this is how
a moon comes to resemble its creator. Growing
weak and tender as a sucked-out egg
between the jaws of the old labrador
in the back room of the vet’s office. & this is a backyard
potion that won’t self-immolate;
try molasses and chicken wire. Rosewater
and mayhem. Collect the plants
with repeatable names. Say, sneezeweed.
Say, panicgrass. Virginia creeper, like a man
in a gas station parking lot, gypsum-skinned
under the wet yellow overheads,
whispering, hush and heaven save us.
The things I could do to you.
The things we could do to each other.
Cuckoo Flower. Corn-cockle. Bastard Toadflax.
To name a thing is to be its first
misinterpreter. Like how I never learned the difference
between Ariadne and Arachne. Which is the spider,
which is the maze. I still wonder. Now say,
Swamp Lousewort. Mad Dog Skullcap.


Eliza Gilbert

Eliza Gilbert is an undergraduate at Vassar College. She was a finalist for the 2022 Adroit Prize in Poetry, and her work can be found/is forthcoming in Pidgeonholes, Third Wednesday, Anti-Heroin Chic, and more. She was born and raised in New York City.

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