Natalie Solmer

Portrait of the Divine with Severed Head and Blue Lotus Stem

Kali has been creeping out
of my goddess card deck, declaring herself
in the face of the woman I’m painting.

She coats her in baby-blue skin she pulls my self-
destruction out of me like silk
and swallows with lolling tongue. 

I dream a giant centipede in the bathtub
and crush it, bloodless. To dream a centipede
means you have little faith. To kill it means—

Am I really demolishing my faithless body?
It’s humiliating that I still must look after it:
bathe it, clothe and feed and wipe my skin,

protect it from the house centipedes— 
silverfish that come out after midnight.
I mash their bloodless bodies

and flush their hundred hair-thin legs.
I remember once, by following the directions
in a book, I felt kundalini burn a current

on the altar of my spine. It terrified, and didn’t come
when I sat in meditation, but during the twilight
between sleep and wake. I stopped following then.

Someone asks where I got my shame.
I can’t remember. I’ve shed my old body.
This new body looks so old.

There are skulls around my neck now,
though you can’t see them. I used to fear
the blade in Kali’s fourth hand.

That’s all over now. My black Divine Mother
bare skinned and shameless, dances on her prostrate lover, 
foot dug into his heart. My legs feel like dancing.

Natalie Solmer is the founder and editor in chief of The Indianapolis Review. She had a former life as a florist and horticulturist, and now teaches writing and English in the Indianapolis area. Her work has been published in journals such as Willow Springs, Tinderbox, Anomaly Literary Journal, Cimarron Review and Glass: A Journal of Poetry. You can find her at