Algebra

Tramway

Issue 2

Two poems

by Krystelle Bamford

Krystelle Bamford

Horoscope For Ophiuchus

You are the snake-handler. Your dreams are cut
from the bleached canvas of a tent revival.
Your bones are bare pine, and the pains in your bones
are dark, whorled knots. Your birthday is marked
by a hot wind carrying hymns on its hot back
through fields of Feverfew, past rotted posts
and shale-strewn churchyards. Your ideal mate
is yourself: You coil inwards to eat your own tail
and on your anniversary drink baptismal water
as a toast to you. Today: You will die from a snake bite,
on a wooden pew, among hymnals, Sunday shoes,
collection plates flowering with oily, green dollars.
But no matter—the year ahead loops again and again.

All Saint's Day (Všech Svatých)

We talked about buying
a long, yellow farmhouse
with a prayer station at the crossroads
full of bright plastic roses.


Every day, the thinking went,
we could buy our chleba
fresh from the bakery—heavy loaves
like stones for building our house.


I would get a bicycle and cut through
the wind at top speed. When the bridges
closed from the floods we would laugh
and take the back road.


I would learn to solder and make shining
piles of steel in our courtyard. You
would lick the black off my fingers
and make me thick soup.


For All Saints Day, we would ride to the cemetery
and light candles in jars on strangers’ graves
so later, from our window, we could enjoy
our own brief coordinates of light.

Krystelle Bamford

Krystelle Bamford grew up in a small town outside of Boston. She has a BA in English Literature from NYU and an MSc in Writing & Cultural Politics from the University of Edinburgh. She has been working at Canongate Books in Edinburgh for the past three years and will start a Creative Writing MLitt at St Andrews in September. In 2010 she received a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust.