The Potomac - Poetry and Politics
December 2006 - THE POTOMAC

   Brent Fisk

Like a black marble with legs,
she wobbles toward her web,
so easy to knock into a pail.
If my mother discovered
this shiver of a thing, she'd dance
like a Shaker in a dry old church.

Spiders teeter, touch their webs
like doctors testing for a pulse.
I let one shelter in the window of a shed,
a slow carpet of husks spreading below.
When a cotton ball of an egg sac appeared,
the spider crept too much into dreams.

My mother whispered brooms
into the corners of my sleep, and
when the full moon slipped behind the clouds,
became cocoon, my fingers had their own bad dreams,
willed me through a net of nerves
to reach for the weight of hammers.
I crushed the widow
like the silk top hat once favored by undertakers.
I sewed it in the soil like a seed, but nothing grew.
The moon mourned without a sound,
shined like the wet face of an old woman
who will not speak of loss.

In the Coat Room
   Brent Fisk

The front door chimed
a hundred times for guests
ringing in with wine and food,
a chill woven through their clothes.

My brother and I wound down
like a pair of forgotten watches,
were stowed in the junk drawer
of our shared bed beside a mound of beaded purses,
Eton-collared coats, coarse wool jackets.
We were skins that dreamed,
dead to the noise, the light, the smoke.

We crept away in sleep
to the dark side of the moon.
Buttons and buckles marred our cheeks
and our bodies were left behind,
sleep cloaking our singular spark
like a light left on in a closet.

We flew, we breathed water,
we ate thorns and fire,
carried time in our cupped hands
like so much wet sand.
In the morning we lay unclaimed.

Another child halfway round the world
wore the night like a stolen coat,
hands dipping into empty pockets,
our names inked, fading with the coming dawn.

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