These four poems by Lillie E. Frank all center on and explore one basic truth: We are small, but the world is large (and strange), and we are made of the world and we must find a self, a place for our self, and a place for each other, within it….
by: Lillie E. Franks
Silhouette They say a silhouette is an absence, A portrait not painted, a person purloined, But I imagine a darkness, and a closing-in. We all form starting at our border. We are first to others, then to ourselves. I am in the unlit place, waiting to be shaped. I am small and childish, a friend of unseeing, But each day, details press me in, like rising water. You find and name me, tight and tighter, And I love you, and I am afraid of you, And I hide in the shrinking darkness. I keep a piece of me smooth and empty, Like a stone in a lake, like a promise to Nothing.
The Promise There is nothing as dull as what destroys us. (You are forever; you are beyond destruction) You will not fall to trumpets and clanging swords (You will not fall; You will never have to fall) Your weakness will not be one arrow to one ankle (You are as strong as mountains, and they as you) You will fall to a hundred neatly stacked receipts (You are moment upon moment built into memory) To mind loose minutes and the empty pull of hunger (You can live without everything but life; you will) Even your center is only dirt, older dirt, harder dirt (You are stone, you are stone, you are stone) You will be made into something you are not. (You will change, only change; you are forever)
The Exception and the Rule To grieve is to be unexcepted. We are all so used to Living Which is being the other one, The black sheep, the lost diamond. We are always the hero charging ahead, Watching the guns tear his friends to words. Life is the exception to chance, to war To a hundred tragic needs, and to time. Only grief can return us to the over-all, The mass and the mob which are made of us. Only grief teaches us that names are filled Then emptied out and filled again. We grieve that we are not exceptions, That a bullet will not turn for us, That steel will not show its softness. We are always grieving the same truth: That we are the hay around the needle; We are the night that swallows stars.
The Mimic Insect The mimic insect knows nothing of evolution. It cannot think its stick legs and leaf body Were plucked, possibility by possibility, From a thousand thousand oceans of dying That stretch earthlong back toward lifelessness. The mimic insect does not call itself mimic. It is a living and a growing and a selfsame. The mimic insect knows, which is enough, That the world is strange and familiar, That it is above all, kind enough to be green. It nods to the skyscraper plants it walks beside As if to say, “It is good to live among you. It is good to see the insect in your branches.”
Lillie E. Franks is a trans author and eccentric who lives in Chicago, Illinois with the best cats. You can read her work at places like Always Crashing, Poemeleon, and Drunk Monkeys or follow her on Twitter at @onyxaminedlife. She loves anything that is not the way it should be.
Header art by Émeric Chantier.