Traci Brimhall

Three Poems
May 22, 2023 Brimhall Traci

A Flower Is Warmer Than the Air Around It Because It Wants the Bee


My fingers grow white with winter, blood
stopping at the palms. My whole body goldens
in summer. Even beneath my bathing suit


my breasts glow like marigolds. It was wrong
to lick milk off the counter, but my philosophy
is all instinct, and the only god of my hours is


pleasure. My doctor’s commandments—do not
run, do not crochet, do not play Winter Wind
on the piano. But my joys are sincere and full


of orchids and laps around the track. I want to
abstain from nothing, not the dance parties,
not the red velvet cupcakes, not the prairie


hikes with insects flicking from stem to stem.
I know the curves of my hip sockets from the way
they ache with morning, but when desire comes


with its shafts of sunlight and efficient tongues,
I let my body be lightning—so bright the pain lives
somewhere else while I sizzle like a cobra lily.


I have been a spectacle on the kitchen counter,
and a cowgirl alone in a cave of winter blankets,
the nerves in my fingers burning white but warming.



From the Book of Unsigned Confessions


Morning glories confess to dawn, which
confesses its pinkness to prairie grasses
that need a western wind to finish
confessing their seeds to the late
season. Just as the ladder confesses
to the barn, which creaks its admissions
back, the cottonmouth confesses to
the cottonwood, whose confession is
outshouted by lightning. The barbed wire
resists, holds all its secrets and horses
in the meadow. Bees confess by dancing.
Wine confesses to the bottle, wetly
and often. A lullaby confesses to a ghost,
who confesses to the kitchen cupboard.
The lights blink on and off—on, off—
confessing its loneliness to the house,
which answers, like a lover, with silence.



Love Is


a patient, perhaps, wearing its gown,
gripping its belly and complaining
about its clumsy health, asking for its
histories to be kissed away. Love is kind
of excited to have a body sometimes,
with its delicious weaknesses—shivers,
tiredness, the tastebuds for macchiatos
and Oreos. Love is a spring storm coming
to weep its petty joys all over the bees
humming in the graveyard. Love is a nest
of moonlight, by which I mean nothing
real but still beautiful, seductive as any
good image. I feel sad about love as I rub
my own feet in the waiting room, but maybe
tomorrow it will churn through the cumulus
noon, lightning promising a flood of flames,
grass offering obedience to the fire. If it is
coming, I can be patient as a rose of Jericho.
Even with morning’s slow rain apologizing
to the garden, love is a head on my chest,
a steady breathing. It is a museum of shared
sleeps. It is a body’s quick amnesia, the pain
barely a memory after the pill. It glows like
a hospital gown dipped in luminol. Love
waits like the hand in your hand reaching
towards the sound of your name.

Traci Brimhall’s newest book, Love Prodigal, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon in 2024. She is also the author of: Come the Slumberless from the Land of Nod (Copper Canyon); Saudade (Copper Canyon); Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton), winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book AwardHer poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Believer, The New Republic, Orion, New York Times Magazine, and Best American Poetry.  She’s received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Parks Service.  Brimhall lives in Manhattan, KS and serves as the current Poet Laureate of Kansas.