Bethany Startin



There are so many things that you must burn.

I am writing to tell you first: today I think I am a god. A tiny galaxy blisters the centre of my palm, and afterwards it smolders into pieces. In front of me, daisies burst to life and to cinder. There is always more gold than there used to be.

Next: I burned up every gift you have ever sent. The face before me whirrs and spins in the smoke and the gleam. My fingers planting flames on everything they touch. You say, put the right ingredients together and we can burn our own miracles. You say, later I am no longer embers and a home is no longer crucial. Outside the snow cascades like ashes.

Today I think I burned down my house.

Over the cityscape, the smoke stacks and the weather balloon rise and keep rising.




It's easy enough to see the map overlaid here, a peninsula there, an island we come back to. Nothing miraculous within worlds within worlds. A floating continent can sink at any time: the vanishing the least impossible thing. Look, a space exactly parallel. Aside, you say, from the things that happen under water. Like light that can only seep upward. So, you say, a story. The things that happen and will have never happened. We are craters if you believe in dying monsters.

The broken white building, and what I remember and you forget at the same time. The rain coming down in sheets to what end, the horseman refusing to move until your time runs out. Tell me today how long the archipelago. How we are stuck in a bone structure, how the horseman is wearing us down.

So, you say, the impossible footprints. We collapse into a single point, as if drunk and quicksilver, as if ocean. The blue girl among the stars like her natural and first habitat, like she is a monster, like her dying cry as she falls to the ground. What if the moon is between us. In time she folds into space exactly where you are and precisely not, and you are looking at her and you are not looking at her and her face is always.




Lately I write about videogames almost exclusively. These poems are selections of a longer project that maps videogame locations, their strange logic and the near-eidetic memories that stem from them.