A BODY LOOKING OVER THE EDGE, BY CHRISTEN NOEL KAUFFMAN
When we drive to the Grand Canyon, you don’t want to hear
how it was formed, the science of 5 million years of the same thing,
a river of persistent belief. The Arizona desert gives way
to the Colorado as you name my demons like road signs,
and I wish to be the rattle snake, a mouth that requires warning,
but this time you call me little sound, barely even a brushfire.
Sometimes I think I’m the rock instead of the river, that my body
is eroding in the constant friction of desire and falling limbs:
tell me when I’m getting too close. Or maybe I’m the daughter
of the river and the rock, somewhere between trapped and tearing
it all apart. I can see how this makes you afraid to turn me loose.
When you tell me about The Flood and the ones left behind,
what I hear is my head under water, the backs of blue whales
and the way it must feel to know the earth is mine.
The rock is mine and the river is mine and this body left to drown
in the torrent is mine, and what a gift that would be in the end.
Now, when I read about formation, I want you to hear me say
2 billion years, the collision of tectonic plates, a slow volcanic merge.
I want you to know I believe in the river, the way it cuts rock over time
and I am none of these things. Just a body looking over the edge.
Christen Noel Kauffman lives in Richmond, Indiana with her husband and two daughters. Her work can be found in Tupelo Quarterly, The Cincinnati Review, Willow Springs, DIAGRAM, Booth, Smokelong Quarterly, and The Normal School, among others.