1. Stregaghi una Mela (Bewitch an Apple)
Hold a winesap apple to your brow and think of the worst possible outcome.
Or has the worst already happened? How do you define cataclysm?
Cut the cursed fruit in half, with a black-handled knife, if you own one. Eat the half
that falls to your right. A winesap will honey your nose and sop your tongue.
Bury the left in your garden.
2. Proteggi i Tuoi Libri (Protect Your Books)
(If you live near Italians, we nurse the woody bush in our yards. We’re big on protection.
We don’t mind if you pick some.)
Use the sprigs as bookmarks. Mark the books that allowed you to stand
humiliated and willing to root your feet into this immeasurable earth.
A sprig for Disappearing Moon Café. A sprig for Bleus de mine. A spring for Blood Sports.
A sprig for Land to Light On. A spring for Lullabies for Little Criminals. A sprig for Runaway.
A sprig for Desert of the Heart. A sprig for The Predicament of or. A sprig for The Kappa Child.
A sprig for This Place Called Absence. A sprig for Rabbit Ears.
A rosemary sprig for I Am Woman. Infinitum
3. Accendi un Piccolo Strenuo Fuoco (Set a Small Brave Fire)
A lit candle. A wooden match. A pinch of salt. A shot of bourbon.
Sprinkle the bourbon with salt and pour a spoon’s worth into your cupped left palm.
Take up the match with your right hand and light it off the candle’s flame.
Your nervous system will say “no,” though you’ve set fire to yourself before,
haven’t you? Kiss the firewater you hold
with the match head. The flame knows
what to do. You will see the spirit leap blue before you feel heat.
Clap your hands before you burn.
Notice how, this time, fear was not followed by consequence.
Notice how, this time, fear only asked to be respected, to be seen.
4. Versi Nord (Face North)
Flip your bed so that your feet point south.
Pray the magnetic north pulls your bad dreams away.
5. Vaffanculo! Luna (Fuck! Moon)
Direct your anger at the waning moon. She’s the oldest woman around and she knows
how to take a punch. (Do women learn how to take punches from the moon? Our traumas
are as recurrent as the lunar cycle, true, though far less visible than a halo.)
You have about thirteen and a half nights to tell the waxing moon, fuck you fuck this
fuck me fuck him fuck her fuck pain fuck poor decisions fuck indecision fuck power
fuck powerlessness fuck anger fuck pretending not to be angry fuck silence fuck this noise
When the moon disappears take a deep breath. Reset. The waxing moon
is a time for wishes. Consider this carefully—what will you wish for.
What will you call into being?
6. Bevi Lo (Drink It)
Maybe your cinnamon sticks have slept in too long in a glass jar?
Your canned Serrano peppers, too. Your bay leaves. Your black pepper.
Turmeric and ginger powder. Whole cloves. Salty plum. Rose buds.
Maybe your dried sage has hung too long beside the kitchen window?
Your garlic braid veiled in dust. Cobwebs lace the willow wreath you spun last winter.
Maybe you’ve forgotten the smell of strong herbs until they are boiling together
in a iron pot on your stovetop. Maybe you forgot the words of your mother,
or grandmother, saying, drink it, I know it tastes bad, but it will make you feel better.
Maybe you have forgotten. But I promise you, dear ones,
magic and medicine have not forgotten you.
Drink the brew as you re-read that poem. You know the poem I’m referring to.
Amber Dawn is a writer living on unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (Vancouver, Canada). Her memoir How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir won the 2013 Vancouver Book Award. She is the author of the Lambda Award-winning novel Sub Rosa, and editor of the anthologies Fist of the Spider Women: Fear and Queer Desire and With A Rough Tongue. Her newest book Where the words and my body begins is a collection of glosa form poems. She currently teaches creative writing at Douglas College and the University of British Columbia, as well as mentors at several community-driven art and healing spaces. Her work has appeared in Room multiple times, and she is currently a reader for the magazine.
This poem is published as part of the No Comment project.
More Writing from the No Comment Project
No Comment by Alessandra Naccarato
Erase and Rewind by Meghan Bell
White house, where some family lived upstairs by Chelene Knight
Loyalty and Violence by Ruth Daniell
Burning Bridges by Joelle Barron
Penknife by Ellie Sawatzky
for play by Kayla Czaga
back, cover by Elaine Corden
Sex Work Solidarity as Healing by Amber Dawn
I Was Once That Girl by Jen Sookfong Lee
On Receiving Bad News by Mallory Tater
The Disappearing Woman by Leah Horlick
Boys Will Be Boys by Dina Del Bucchia
Nicomekl River by Claire Matthews
Knowing Better by Anonymous
Monster by Mikiko Galpin
Reframing the Montréal Massacre by Maureen Bradley
Testimony, Part X by Anonymous
Broken Heart Emoji, Crystal Ball Emoji, Stars Emoji by Kyla Jamieson
Bits by Carleigh Baker
Metamorphosis 6: 401-674: A Paraphrase in Still Pictures by Annick MacAskill
black pearls by Jónína Kirton
Not Yet by Juliane Okot Bitek
Sei Turni (6 spells for #CanLit) by Amber Dawn