Election Day

Never have I been a wife. Nor a mother.
Someone slides a map of America under
my chair. Clouds the color of grids, you’ll
find my nationalism there, a dead XY method.
If I could give birth right now, if I could
will speech to a shore, an arboretum of nylon
would exit my body. Pull the orange tyrant
from my thighs, for example, cue the search
engines to amass every definition of machine.
Machine once meant “I can”—at a later point,
slang for “vagina.” Grab her by the machine.
Can I. Declaratives under false pretenses
of order, a slogan for example. Make.
The one time a mother smacked me
clean across the face, I made the weather.
A rock fell through light is how
I forgave her. Let me forgive her. Contained
in the word “self ” is not to inherit. The word
“self ” once the reflexive third person pronoun:
a contradiction in invention, the way the tongue
can’t lick itself without itself. I have lost, for example,
a vitality somewhere in the repetition of waking.
The Lord selects her diction. Cemetery. Arrow.
That may be chosen. When I elect to speak a
plot falls from my mouth.

photo credit Emily Raw

Natalie Eilbert is the author of Indictus, winner of Noemi Press's 2016 Poetry Contest, slated for publication in late 2017, as well as the debut poetry collection, Swan Feast (Bloof Books, 2015). She is the recipient of the 2016 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellowship at University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she is serving a one-year academic appointment. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The New Yorker, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, jubilat, and elsewhere. She is the founding editor of The Atlas Review.