her room is darker with the nightlight on
alone outside morning’s just insinuation
grasses lap her feet air motionless
wet as held breath world
indifferently asleep the yard mirrors
dark marbled sky the void
that purrs against her neck
breakfast waits for lunch father moody
from the ‘graveyard shift’ a term that conjures
worms and makes the pancakes taste like dirt
big pine whispers her to play beneath its boughs
a wasp crawls up her dress and stings
three times before she cries out
muds the hurt with dirt and cold
water from the outside tap
the sky chips with satellites other
things further toward disinterested orbs
alone outside evening’s just insinuation
earthworms percolate the sod
she goes inside uncalled
you didn’t want a church ceremony
I might be tempted by the righteous to cringy
protests or go off the pill
it was early days an easy shrug
away from absolution I slipped back
into a supple pelt of sin
my body given to you in a seaside chapel
rugburned stained with five-dollar wine
pillowed by plastic flowers fish-flesh white
I dreamt a pony one eye brown one wave-break blue
its coat a fingered hurricane of gray and gray
bent over its neck devout
I dreamt your spousal face a piling
bearded by barnacles intertidal weeds
beheld by one eye at the bottom of an oily boat
my body untacked through gritty surf
rolled in turbid water mouth hooked
the ripening of rust
marriage a failure pony long dead
the fisher of men still baits his lines
but in the vestibule
unseen hands push me out
I believe in beautiful confutations
ember a prick of light in the palm of my hand
Writing on My Grandmother’s Table
where she conjured goulash in Willowware bowls,
fish-shaped cakes frosted sweetheart pink.
The unvarnished pine, scorched and stained, begged
embellishment – gouges, ingredients, odd thoughts.
Melodic voices warbled in her brain, their music
scripted on the pliant wood.
She died strapped to a bed, songed as a jay.
A sparrow panics between windows. I wrap my fist,
punch through panes. It’s harder than you think,
both glass itself and the will to strike.
Or a finch. I watch its beak wet the glass
before surrendering – slow pivot onto its back.
Carefully I remove the frame.
I didn’t visit, didn’t fortify her walls
with paper swans or valentines.
20-year-stretched and I still can’t touch
the corners of that regret.
But this wood is soft and holds ink.
The S of sorry. The little fishes.
Lisa Trudeau is a former publishing professional and independent bookseller. She lives in Massachusetts. Recent work has been published by Levee Magazine, Cypress Press, Constellations, Eastern Iowa Review, and Connecticut River Review among others.