Words By Joan Colby, Art By Susannp4
Who’d build a solar house in this dense wood.
Faint light can barely penetrate the pines
and wickerwork of deciduous branches.
It is so cold I welcome how your Chow
clambers into the bed where I shiver
in my winter coat beneath a quilt
thin as skim milk. How did you stand it
when he ran off to Yellow Springs
leaving you this project
of insufficiency. I’m grinding
coffee beans with vanilla, my fingers blue
as Dutch tiles of the backsplash
watching a few early crocuses perk
along the riverbank as sleety rain
starts to fall.
I’m not turned on by women,
I have to tell you, taking the couch
the night before you leave
for the low-res program at Goddard.
We kiss goodbye, your little car vanishing
as I watch from an upstairs window.
I read the journal you’ve left bedside
like an invitation. How the crepey skin
on the neck of your older lover
excites you with its prurient
decay. Droopy breasts, small kettle
of the belly, fine wrinkles of her upper lip.
It’s like a paean to departures
of jotted memories: detassling corn
like every rural kid, that man you married
had babies with, the words all wrong
zigzagging in your head as you stood ironing
and thought What am I doing.
These small rooms ordered
exactly as you designed. Books alphabetized
upon the shelves. A library of capture.
I still the impulse to disengage
titles into chaos, and sweep the floor,
spritz the windows, smooth your narrow bed.
Eve of the Day
In the far north, in the darkened hours
when the light is snuffed
like a candle
and you gather near the hearth
of the storyteller and listen
so intently your heart
in a celebration of sparks,
it is then
you learn to hope beyond the cold stars
the runes foretold. So new stories
replace old stories. Gods disembark
from dragonships as the child of peace
walks barefoot through the snow.
Does it matter what you believe
if the light returns, if the days
stretch out their little hands
with bouquets of everlasting.
Burn the great log by the sea
and fit the new words
to the old warsongs.
How people have always stood
together while neon skies rave
counting on some promise
made ages ago,
improvised and polished like the touchstone,
like the torches dipped in oil,
the child swaddled on the cradleboard.