I’m in awe of how you entered attached to a wire amidst blue
lighting. The smaller white rays projected erect as our hands,
too far to gauge just how large the white wings you wore were,
how heavy the feathers weighed when attached to a skeleton
I imagine was made with more metal than air as if you were called
to carry two people. Such is the life of a woman! and in a ruched
dress that omitted your feet. The world loves to render us
immobile under the pretense of veneration. It’s impractical,
the notion that anyone could exist in an incessant state of shimmering.
We’d accomplish nothing but looking — stiff as your backup dancers
costumed grey and hooded. They stood in a circle, in the middle
of the stage. Dear oracle, who exists in an incessant state
of entertainment, I don’t care that you weren’t actually singing.
It’s enough that you have sung at some point, that you are
a kind of perennial. The Brazilian man next to me sang for you
every word. Notice me. We noticed an anthem of loneliness.
You landed behind a screen, escaped those wings, that dress.
In the center of the pit, your head fell forward. You flipped your hair back.
Someone holy in the parlor.
A lounge chair with an armrest
for support instead of comfort.
Palm to her face. In love,
it’s unrealistic to expect
the possession of someone
wholly. It’s dreadful. We never
think of that at the time.
The author’s hand in the scene.
Another metaphor for faith
foreshadowed in the decision
to insure or not insure in case
it will burn. It isn’t a nice house
but a university of suffering. We are
in someone else’s hands. Our own
polish glass behind the partition.
She is patiently stroking the skin
of a peach. I don’t believe in
special protection. Gripping the arm-
rest. She is sorry for pointing. I’m not
speaking as yours.
Where else would the cows give birth
if not on top her grass where she loves
those wet calf sacs pushing forth
with steam rising from their limp bodies.
I’m so lucky to have had a mother
like that to lie on with my thumb
in my mouth and asleep. I clung
to her neck like a rock strung
on a leather cord. My legs were long
enough to reach her knees. If not in her lap,
where else would I have sat and thought
of existence. No one else will ever hold me
as thoroughly as when I dig a hole through
and climb down to lie back inside her.
Sometimes my mother flies
off the handle like a drunk
or a light switch we can’t find.
In the kitchen she will scream
as if she’s never used a knife
to cut a green pepper,
never bandaged a cut before.
We’re out of tissues
and it’s my fault. She broke
several wine glasses closing
the door to the dishwasher.
Her temperature rises
without the warning kettle
screech for no reason
other than cheese melting.
It’s burning at the bottom
of the toaster-oven.
My father must think what
kind of animal did I marry?
She says, “If my stomach ever reaches
out farther than my boobs
take me to the backyard and shoot.”
As parents we feel somewhat responsible
but are not in the least able to explain why.
The angel in the tapestry is missing a wing.
The police found no evidence of a rape&emdash;
meaning there was no frat party.
The magazine will retract. They will get sued
and Sue will get what no one deserves
again, or for the first time. It depends on the lie.
How much easier it must be to walk when believing
in exceptions, no need to tighten the spikes
on your shoes. What good the body is unwitnessed.
Instead of a head, we see strips of linen.
Catherine Pikula received her MFA in poetry from NYU where she was a Writers in the Public Schools fellow. She is a teaching artist with Teachers and Writers Collaborative and a part time tutor. Her work has appeared in Prelude.