Nicole Callihan and Zoë Ryder White

Three Ghazals
January 23, 2022 and Zoë Ryder White Nicole Callihan

Ghazal w/ Dream

When I woke in the night, I walked to the center of the dream.
It was hung with vines, strewn with timber. I found a nest, in the dream.
I shook the nest to see what it might contain: whose translucent
wings, whose hum and prayer, what east and what west in this dream?
As the nest shook, so shook I. My eye-hooks unlatching, my pockets
turned out. Glitter and lint, cuffs and flint; I came undressed, in my dream.
My dream body was such that the organs could be seen through the skin:
the heart mere muscle; the lungs as if painted on like a vest. The dream
bore me like a boat across the forest. Innards aimed up, in a chorus
of bullfrog and faraway highway; I pressed my face to the dream.
My nose and eyes. I tipped my head to catch it in my throat, like rain,
the deluge and downfall, the rivulets and all the rest. I drank my dream.
And you were there, and you. Stalwart heart. Galvanized brain. Boat filled
to its level but floating still: boat as house, us as guests in my dream.
Another day will break this night, Zoë. We’ll move through the light,
our bodies buzzing with this other world, blessed with this dream.



Ghazal w/ Shirt

Before I see your details, I know you by your shirt.
Laundry trailed across the yard. Blue sock. Gray shirt.
The line is empty but for a snap in the wind.
Here is where your pants hung. Here: your shirt.
Your hat walked here, above your head. You laughed here;
ate what I gave you, wiped your mouth on your shirt.
These socks you balled. And once in winter you stood in light
and ironed the sleeves, the collar, the tail of this very shirt.
Grief will come close and closer. Now it moves like an ocean liner
far out in the rainy sea. It hangs on the peg, an empty shirt.
The passengers bang their crystal glasses; the captain leads a song.
That old tug to the edge of the world, a tea stain on your shirt.
The porthole, the pinhole, the outbound passage. The chain to pull
the light on. Packed valise: one slip, some darkness, one white shirt.
Some darkness, Zoë, but just some, not the sum of us,
not the sum at all. We are more—hearts beating brutally inside our shirts.



Ghazal w/ Train

I could be west of here. I could get out of this heat, get on a train.
My body by the window, the seasons change–rain, sleet–on the train.
Smudge-hearted, I move through the blurred world. To be
successively elsewhere. Am I complete, on this train?
Field gives way to river gives way to town gives way to field
to river to town to field. The world on repeat on this train.
And do I lag behind my body’s trajectory? And do I see myself
in motion? Or: buffeted self-as-red-balloon eats clouds above the train.
Self-as-string-of-pearls wrapped carefully in tissue paper, tucked inside
a travel bag tucked inside the luggage I store near my feet on the train.
Self irrelevant, self diffused, self in the wrapped dark, sunny self,
self comingled with other selves. The friction, the engine heats the train.
Self as body with various aches. Self taking Tylenol in the dining car,
washing it down. Warm wine. Self benign. Self obsolete. The train
shakes distance down into something that has weight in my palm.
What car are you in, Nicole? Pour me a glass, save me a seat on this train.

Nicole Callihan and Zoë Ryder White’s collaborative books include A Study in Spring (Rabbit Catastrophe 2015) and ELSEWHERE (Sixth Finch 2020). Their poems have appeared in Sixth Finch, Harbor Review, and On the Seawall.