Castle ||| The Awl

A house is an elephant I live in
I live in one room and death
is also in it like a plant
I forget sometimes to water
With time I can forget anything
Lost to me have been some lakes
What are death’s priorities
and what are mine and can
we reach a happy agreement
People have said to me in quotes
“safe as houses” and I feel
safe here but I think
my feeling is wrong
An elephant is kind but not safe
is maybe troubled
goes to drink and troubles
the water I can see it
I can see it but I do not understand
I went to steal bread and by mistake
I stole harm
Now harm is in the room
What if we eat it
In the room you are here
just a little, you relax
in your own potential form
I feed you and then I feed death
I bring you water
Time elapses, quilts us into place
This elephant we live in is rising
I think we cannot make her safe


Heather Christle (pronounced “crystal”) is the author of What Is Amazing (Wesleyan University Press, 2012), The Difficult Farm (Octopus Books, 2009), and The Trees The Trees (Octopus Books, 2011), which won the 2012 Believer Poetry Award. A new collection, Heliopause, will be out in spring 2015. Her poems have appeared in publications including Boston Review, Gulf Coast, The New Yorker, and The Best American Poetry. She has taught poetry at Antioch College, Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Emory University, where she was the 2009-2011 Poetry Writing Fellow. A native of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, she lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Castle” was originally published on The Awl and appears in Christle’s 2009 collection The Difficult Farm.