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natalie eilbert


the persistence of memory

"We are each of us largely responsible for what gets put into our brains. For what as adults we wind up caring for and knowing about. No longer at the mercy of the reptile brain we can change ourselves."



"I confuse everything for myself." -Francesca Woodman

“Whittle the cosmos down to a dandelion.” Ask twenty questions.
Not rape. The orchids of my limbic system. Francesca Woodman said
“I finally managed to try to do away with myself, as neatly and concisely as possible.”
I spin to obliterate, is that what you want. After Cathy Park Hong read standup
it occurred to us that only in poetry language need not explain itself.
Basement hands on my torso. I learned the word eidetic to mean they weren’t my hands.
Whittle the cosmos down to a dandelion. Is it a mammal. Not abduction.
A man in my cortex is the black imprint of a woman faceup. Black orchids
waltz her perineum. Belly-up so to watch the ceiling, its whale-calm.
Amoebas are whales of the microbial world. Volume of atomic structure.
I am sick of being so literal. Have another. Not victim. We don’t remember
walking it is built in. My crocodile cerebellum. My little cosmic dandy.
Liquid water liquid memory. Nacreous organ erect in the ocean. Store
and copy info. Busted sink where I turned the faucet where I turned the faucet.
At what point is a woman singular. At what point is she collected again.
Deep sound channel disrupted so whales swallow cruise ships and not each other.
Swallow/follow. When we follow we are basic. This is built in.
Corpus callosum. When we return from a field drunk off its seeds.
Do not understand me, don’t you dare. My eyelids are for sleeping.
White matter. When I sucked up memory I sucked up fluid. Adrenal.
Maybe. At 22 I wrote a poem called “Harvest” to demonstrate my studious control
of negative capability. “Say facts, the twine left over.” DIAGRAM published it.
When I brought my occipital nob to the doctor he touched it with all his fingers.
Lifted its carburetor from the mantle. Said nothing. The twine spun loose.
Ask twenty questions. 100 billion neurons. 100 trillion neural connections.
Nobody saw me run from them because I did not run from them. I sit
in my smudge. Sit in a chair next to my sludge. My bowl of snakes is a composition.
Rictus you couldn’t see. I was made to say damsel. Given white pills
and a window. To violate boundaries. Bad men. Chemical burn marks. I guess.


I guess white pills a composition. I sit connections loose. His fingers published it. My studious
control. Adrenal. Sleeping. Its seeds built in not each other. Collected again the faucet. Store
dandy. Remember atomic structure. Whale-calm black orchids. Not abductions. My hands need
not explain themselves. Hong read standup as neatly and concisely as possible. Woodman said
ask twenty questions.

Chemical burn marks given my bowl of snakes. I did not run from them. 100 trillion neural
twine. He touched it with all the twine left over. Diagram to demonstrate sucked up fluid. My
eyelids are for a field drunk basic. So whales swallow cruise ships at what point I turned the
ocean. My little cosmic victim. Volume to watch the ceiling, a woman faceup. Is it a mammal.

They weren’t my language. Is that what you want, to do away with myself. My limbic system
whittles the cosmos down. Rictus. I guess.


And so here we are with our dead organs and sphincters.
Maybe I asked a pretty question. Tragic but isn’t it.
We are made on a gurney, we don’t have to read this.
Duodenum of the first degree. Children prod death
with a stick. I watched death slither away. Thank god
I did not get a WCW tattoo. Thank god some whales
know to kill men. These days I’m suprarenal, delicate
oilcloth on the damaged hood. What must happen to us
that we ask questions over what happened to us.
@Oprah @Yahweh do you hear the night’s throat chug water.
I lay down in the road as a girl because I wanted
someone to stop me like no one stopped him. I wring
a towel in oil and spell “eidetic” in the building glass.

Read Citizen and read my white skin. I negate events,
the transfiguration of mythology. I negate @natalie_eilbert
I chug cosmos water, her throat chugged what of it.

There is a beautiful scene in Heavenly Creatures where Kate Winslet
where Kate Winslet where Kate Winslet where Kate Winslet.
A castle drops. Green myst. A man always enters us through a window.

I remember I remember I remember. Animal smears across
wood paneling. The hurricane nearly toppled our mobile home.
Shattered glass slick with eidetic grease. Shoot back a vial
of gingko biloba. When we hear wind. Maidenhair tree
shakes. When we hear the word wind. When we hear anything.
I confuse everything for myself. Pencil cactus, castiron, hot pants.
What happened to us. A door. Question mark chases past.





Natalie Eilbert's first book of poems, Swan Feast, is forthcoming from Coconut Books in 2015. She is the author of two chapbooks, Conversation with the Stone Wife (Bloof Books, 2014) and And I Shall Again Be Virtuous. (Big Lucks Books, 2014). Poems and essays are forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Tin House, Guernica, The Philadelphia Review of Books, West Branch, The Fanzine, and elsewhere. She is the founding editor of The Atlas Review.