Our Former Address
We got along, you and I, like a house afire: loose papers, odd pencils catching first, the hanging fringe of an afghan, dusty curtains edging in light. Strewn clothes. The kindling of small tables and rickety kitchen chairs. Pressed-wood cabinets and their jars of spices popping, each a minor firework. Old floorboards warming and singing, walls grinning in flame, windows weeping with laughter. We brought the roof down, didn’t we, dear one. We left nothing behind.
It took twenty years for the dogwood branches to fill the second-story windows. Slow-growing, and not the frothy pink flowers we planned: these are coral that fade to stippled beige and last for months. Unanticipated, like the many ways we failed each other that last painful year. You gone after an eon of trying and everything better though so much lost. It's not my privilege ever to see you happy now, or to see this tree without remembering when I still could. All spring, all summer, first beauty, then memory, pretending I am slowly gaining wisdom, my eyes full of the flowers I never imagined would be just mine.
Crossing the Water
A bridge and a tunnel have the same concern, but express it differently, one soaring, one burrowing. They rarely meet, if ever, but think how much they'd have to talk about – it'd be like finding your lost twin through the looking glass – how the river rises up, presses down, shines, gulps. Its deep cold. And the people, those frantic ants, with their many tiny dramas en route: death, of course, perhaps also birth. Their hubris in thinking you can leave here to get there. In rare quiet moments, while humans dream of the other side, bridge and tunnel can hear each other hum.
Finally, I was inconstant and undarling, my great fears. Tell it oblique, she urged me – ever at the confessional. With her red lips. Her shut door. And the one she made for me I never loved or understood. August, January, March, May and nothing. The next August, gone. Nor did I inquire. How she wrote, with fine tools setting one jewel by another, overseeing a small shine. The creatures and trees, her tiny back garden, her wide mind.
LAURA CHERRY is the author of the collection Haunts (Cooper Dillon Books) and the chapbooks Two White Beds (Minerva Rising) and What We Planted (Providence Athenaeum). She co-edited the anthology Poem, Revised (Marion Street Press) with Robert Hartwell Fiske, and her work has been published in journals including Antiphon, Ekphrastic Review, Los Angeles Review, Cider Press Review, and DMQ Review.
Artwork by David Dodd Lee.
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