hope chest

i swallowed dresses like water.
gulps of fabric. where do you become
a wife? i spread in the dark,
eagle-faced & hungry for tulle.
i had a man once hand me 
a pair of plyers & ask me
to remove each of my teeth 
one by one as a promise to him.
i did so. each tooth turned to dust
as they hit the air. "giving"
must be willing & eager. 
he divided my soul between 
a set of fresh pots & pans.
now, i make promises on other people's knees.
a prayer isn't always something done 
with only the mouth. i saved money 
for my wedding in a paper bag 
alongside stolen stars & rubber bands. 
you have to take what you can get.
i hammer together a basin. here is where
we will pretend to be ready.
where i will carve a new heart
from the bark of a rotted out tree.
a necklace from someone's grandmother.
three gold coins. i try to pay angels 
to teach me deception. men have
put their thumbs over my eyes
& told me it was night. i am holding 
a chest in the dark, looking for a place
to set it down. foot of the bed
where everyone waits. an infection
of lace on my back. girls braiding
my hair as i wake. roses bushes
are never as beautiful as they should be.
white roses wilting in a vase
inside the chest. i place a tape recorder
& a taser. the dowry is a spoonful 
of honey. he will wake up,
crawl on his hands & knees, 
& open the chest every day. find me there
sewing breath into rope. 
tell me i am the beautiful stone
in the whole world. i will weep.
maybe i should learn how to 
become a bird. preferably an eagle
or a hawk. never a crane. 
perch high up. give him feathers
to keep him company. 
sit on top of the chest
& focus on turning my eyes 
into moons.

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