I’d recommend against reading him.
His head is. You can brush
the thick fur back to show the line
of his jaw, the way his eyes are full
of sparking branches and somehow bigger
than his TARDIS skull. And my memory
is, or strangely shaped, the way algae
might show the imprint of a tossed-in twig
that sank, palimpsest, into the pond.
I thought a gleaming jar might hold
enough, a salt cellar squatting on the sideboard.
Twist a silvery chain around an agrafe
and wait for the moment nothing
else will fit. A stopper in a bottle
in your nautilus ear. A cork’s
fractals chasing off into the green.
I always saw four wings spinning and wondered
at the species of bird, butterfly winged (but someone
will tell me that butterflies have eight wings, or twenty,
or only one) and blue. The cat is feathered down
his front legs in those layers, like a small, albino
Farrah Fawcet plastered to them. My brother
had a poster, all hair and teeth, all gold
as anyone can be gold, and that reminds me
of the rumor of a dead woman needing
a dime of bare skin on her gold-painted torso,
or dying to the clangor of a host of church bells,
and Scout and Bombadil and the handmaid
and the Wife of Bath, and they spin and spin
and here I am, counting wings, and pages
and the creep of my refractive error and an ugly
inability to blend all those feathers into flight.
And your little red
My father was a Big Red, but small. He laughed
when he said he was on the football team and we
all marveled at the shrimpiness of the 50s
and his twiggy legs. But his hair was red,
and big with it like an aura glowing, like
the round saint halos big as afros, shining.
We got an email that there were protestors
at the corner, and that explains the traffic
weirdness we can see out the window facing
the other way. Otherwise, we would be hidden
up in our loft, like owls uncaring it’s the time
for shearing, or pigeons, just waiting for a tiny
message to be tied to one twiggy orange foot.
Who could know that somewhere across the country
someone died and rioters are rioting? It’s silent here
inside these walls. We watch tennis
instead of news. The email comes. We read.
Say “What are they protesting anyway?”
And shrug and root for the underdog in the major.
I try to describe the way the kaleidoscope stumbles
around the center of my vision like a drunkard
and I wonder where my hands are. Wikipedia
has an artist’s rendering of auras, oh, forgive me
scintillating scotomas, though that sounds
rather grand and wonderful, not something
that makes you want to barf then scream
or the other way around. Glitter in a snowglobe?
Something swirling and bright that your eyes can’t catch
and your feet go floating away, untended.
Recording of NaPo #11: “Letters of”
The cat sits in his basket like a fat hen
brooding over eggs. I remember my mother’s
complaints about being sent to fetch the eggs
each morning, the way the hens would peck.
But if I reach my hand under the cat,
into the warm fluff of his belly, I could not know
if he would purr or bite, could not choose
that over the swift predictability of hens.
Then you get your feet set right push and glide
and the ice rolls out behind you like a satin ribbon
and you don’t stop sliding past every line
past the walls go clear past the ice and the man
renting skates looks up from his magazine in surprise
and puts down his banana flip and stares and you go
past him and into the parking lot and your car and past
every driver on the street with a mochachino
and the street is cold and slick and you are silent
as a ballerina posed waiting for the music to stop or begin
and no one told you how to slow down or how
to stand so you stay crouched lunging
slide across the county across the state
you’ve stayed down for hours and days
your toe perfectly pointed and your hand
light as a feather on the stone but you will confess
your left thigh is twitching tired and your right
knee is inching farther down and then you look
up at the instructor and find you’ve gone three feet
and then the stone is gone and your ass is on the ice.
The exercise was always in the chase.
I think the yellow fuzz hid eyes and legs
that helped the balls skip underneath the fence
and skitter down the street. My mother sighed
and listed on her racquet, rarely used
for anything but sending us to fetch
and shook her head and watched us scurry too
where mothers now might fear a car. But there
was nothing there but silent tar and sun
and dogs that were too smart to chase along.