Crocuses in January. Warped frames
on your stack of canvases. The Norfolk pine
cracking its clay pot. Square pegs
in round holes, big pills down a narrow throat,
the urge to flee.
Early on, it surprised me -- your calm
as you pinched your sliced finger together
under the tap, tiptoeing the footstool,
the house in hysterics. What doesn’t fit
sticks in the memory like a key in a rusted lock,
breaking off hung-over days from drugged nights,
impulse from ordinary thought. Fact and theory,
the mouse’s quivering mass and the improbable hole
in the baseboard, my brittle broom
a handful of straw grabbed much too late.
It’s in the details:
on the other side
of your snapped connection,
waiting for the static
to subside. It’s not as if
the pain could burn you,
tattoo lightning across your back,
although that’s what
it feels like at first. Instead,
the sensation leafs out
east and west, flares in the mind
with curdled echoes
bridging one thought to another
like those pop-beads your sister used
for your necklaces,
their painted plastic gleam
flaking off in her smudged palm.
Beyond that false light,
light’s memory remains;
and behind that,
dropping all the beads
rolling north and south along the floor.
Cheryl Snell's books include poetry and two novels. Published widely online and in print, she won the Lopside Press competition for "Prisoner's Dilemma," and has had work included in the Best of the Net Anthology. A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, Cheryl collaborates frequently with her sister, the artist Janet Snell, for Scattered Light Library.