Michaela A. Gabriel
Copper (Cu) -
The day I fell in love with a mirror
all glass misted over. Like summer cities. Black lochs. Like eyes. I learned about longing for an impossible twin. Life-sized. Almost real. Schizophrenia sliced through space. Worlds multiplied like shards. I slipped into a parallel universe where copper bloomed on rocks. Butterflies circled, a tawny symphony. Wings beat their reflections. Nothing was unique. Singular. An echo hung beside each word, crystal clear, sharp enough to cut to the bone. Someone called me Alice, mistook me for reality. A truth. I tried to label myself Cc. Bcc. Facsimile. When I wanted to leave, my shadow held me back. Doorknobs came off in its hands. Disintegrated like dreams of The One. I invoked Aphrodite. The alchemists. Someone to blind me. With beauty. Science. Trickery. That other face wouldn’t let me avert my eyes.
The day I fell in love with a sickle
a swishing sound filled the air. In between, the staccato pop of corn twisting and dancing in the heat, turning its insides out. The crunch of oats punctuated sentences spoken in anger. In haste. Down by the corn fields, silence. A mother reached through a mantle of ice, embraced her daughter’s shadow. At the edge of a grave. Of reason. I sacrificed wicks. Matches. Foxes’ tails lit up in the flicker of torches as they tried to outrun the flames. My world filled with smoke, the smell of singed hair. Everything fire. The only thing cool, a serrated semicircle. Skin caressed the blade, or vice versa. Somebody etched a crescent into my left thumb. For fertility. For motherly love. A droplet of blood sat on the tip of my finger. A perfect sphere, classified as a planet that only my eyes could see.
The day I fell in love with a paleoceanographer
iceberg armadas set sail. Towards the east. Towards surrender. Melting point. I traced their journey in my sink. Fingered the rim. In the twilight I saw his mouth, an underwater cave. I pretended to drown. Deep beneath the surface, voices crackled across cables. Echoless. Stale. There in the darkness I gave up my love of clouds, of light. There I spread out my life. Like sediment. Like a Heinrich layer. He brushed past me like fog. His nonchalance tarnished my face. My breasts. Fertility. His tenderness belonged to grains of rock. To a glacier’s long lost breath of ice. I grew a hunger so fierce the earth shook. I opened my mouth to swallow all the ghosts of Atlantis.
The day I fell in love with an x-ray
everything became transparent. Like clingfilm. Like Cinderella’s slipper. A window just before it rains. I shut my eyes. The name Conrad danced across my mind, left me with the aftertaste of lead. Desire. Pockets full of enigma and grief. I dialled 111 to apply as a detective. A spy. A contrast agent. Nobody picked up the phone. Even the tone sounded reticent. Eremitic. I swallowed my words, shielding my tongue from poison. From bitterness. Someone stole the wavelength from under my hands. To talk about the state of gases. A Dutch woman’s morphine addiction. I held my breath. My lungs filled with wonder. The memory of air. In a dream I saw my death, an unflattering portrait pinned to a bone. I woke to the silence of idle clocks. Aprons hanging from pegs. Light akin to gold, travelling in straight lines. Shadows swarmed the plates on my table. In bundles. In candy floss shapes. Traces of possibility disappeared. My heart declared bankruptcy.
Michaela A. Gabriel lives in Vienna, Austria, where she teaches English to adults and does translation work. She has been widely published both online and in print, and is the author of two and a half chapbooks: apples for adam; the secret meanings of greek letters; and small confessions and pebbles of regret (with Alex Stolis). Having recently overcome a stubborn spell of writer’s block, she is now at least occasionally working on her full length manuscript, elemental, to which these poems belong.