Pill boxes rest on the counter, an abacus of prescriptions. I’ll remember this chapter passed down from one ancestor to another, weight of the family tree. Hiatus comes from Latin to yawn. I love to ignore the gaping one. Think vespertine, flourishing in the evening: crepuscular. I crave an innocent gloaming. Instead, I see flame-shaped markings. Flammulated. Tattoos. Not just on owls, the symbol of Athena. I’m seeing too many flames. I want to put bombed cinderblocks on mute, erase complicity off my skin. I want numbing for spirit pain. Will my heart become cold like a beetle pinned in a science project? Launched into another grief, my teeth hide behind the mask, the dire veil. Let’s not go back to old ways of drinking. I mean thinking. Give up our alibis. Give up our vodka. We must not abet. I will try dying. I fear I’m dyslexic?
Beside the stealth piano with its keys like black licorice so beautiful and tragic I hear another State of the Union from a great height. I can’t even look or I might get dizzy. I’d love to edit the world, the geography of the mind with its tar pit that preserves the burdens of my ancestors. A brief history (of?): <insert war/s here> <insert denial> <insert plague and pestilence> <insert denial> <insert a great leap> <repeat> On schedule like a bus, here come the grenades with hand-dug graves in grease and sorrow. And into the firmament of its own surprise, the latest terror that doesn’t even need to be warfare to be terrifying. The piano is padlocked to a stupor.
A [New] Context
I feel like I’m reading the same page over and over, checking the time and forgetting the hour, waving at someone who is waving at someone else. The drift of neurotransmitters float through straits, synaptic gauntlets, this everywhere listing. Another war blooming. There’s a moth that feeds on tears of horses—that could be my tears for the thought everything is broken. And that we spend twenty-six years sleeping, seven trying to sleep. But that’s an average. Meaningless for this day since we (I) spend how much doing anything meaningful to save our planet. For peace. All this primordial stuff being ignored, natural and preternatural, macro- and microscopic, the will of the Great Architect, in regalia with tattered flags as the virtuous minutes go. Don’t we want to fix our world. That’s not a question. Our sighing shrines splinter in war and weather. Move all the statues to a museum, they say. Move endangered mammals to a sanctuary. Move women and children to a strange country. Let them breathe trapped air. Give everything dead or alive a new old context.
©2022 Cathryn Shea
All rights reserved
… has a recent poetry collection, “Genealogy Lesson for the Laity” (Unsolicited Press, 2020); her chapbooks include “Backpack Full of Leaves” and “It’s Raining Lullabies.” A Best of the Net nominee, her poetry has appeared in anthologies and journals including Poet Lore, New Orleans Review, Tar River, Gargoyle, Tinderbox. Cathryn served as editor for Marin Poetry Center Anthology. She lives in Fairfax, CA.