from the working girl’s
spell for married men
Begin with your wife's rosemary plants.
Lined up on the kitchen window, the selves she shed to get here. The pantry
shelves with too much macaroni, but never enough salt. Your fault she burned
the eggs for weeks straight and singed her hand on the stove. There were too many dishes, so you stopped
having sex. Sex, the siren turned dowager who donned her hat and maidly
umbrella and set sail for further shores. No one knows where she drowned, there
amid the pans caked with sauce and the lonely olive floating a spoon. She tried
to pull you to the sink one night to listen, hands down your pants, but you
couldn't hear the weeping over all the rattling coffee mugs. You'd leave them
half-full on the desk every day for months, Where she'd line them up and see
what sprouted in their black, fertile, bottoms.
spell for the lonely
Begin with your own shadow on subway
tiles. The pile of gas rags and broken
barricades at the end of the platform.
How one frigid night, you watched them burn the tracks to thaw them in
the rail yard. Like so many things, not sure if it was a disaster or completely
common. The window washer that seemed like he was flying, but was really
falling. his leg broken by the rope in three places. He was back at work a week later in a cast,
balancing above the city on his tight rope.
The pictures of men on early skyscrapers holding sandwiches. The
waitress balancing on one foot at the diner, runs in her stockings. How she was beautiful and sad, and maybe more
beautiful because of it, You can't think
in the bathrooms, for all the secretaries crying over lost mothers and lovers.
For all the lipstick smears on the mirror.
You'd write your name there and it would rub right off.
spell for the traveler
Under the new moon, everything looks like
blood. The sky, the Mississippi. When you close your eyes, red blooms like
algae at the edges. When the man in the French Quarter placed his hands over
your face and spun you around, you saw not stars, but red, dark moon. Soon, you
were lost in cobbled streets, hobbling through voodoo shops with 50 cent
knock-offs. The medium who grabbed your wrists and inquired whether you were
okay. But then it was all relative. The
heat, your slow sweat beneath gas lamps. A sign above a flat said it was
haunted, but then so is the body. All it's crooked nooks and spiders in the
rafters. No room for the living in all that clatter. No room for magnolias,
dropped blossom by blossom into the river.
spell for uneven floors
Begin with rosewater, rubbed on the
wrists and throat. The places only his
mouth goes. Throw out the bathwater with the baby, the baby with the stove that
smells of gas eve on a good day. Be prepared for thunder. What wonder when the
sky lifted itself above the buildings
and came back as rain. The lake swollen and barely in its banks. All of
it surely a delusion, brought on by whiskey and lack of sleep. How the
furniture was always creeping across the room when you weren't looking, The
books that disappeared from the shelf. How you were always hooking your ankle
on the ottoman in the dark. Hunting the
hammer, the slotted spoon in the depths of other closets. The faucets that
dripped a steady rhythm that sometimes
corresponded to your heart. The pipes that rusted and ruined every towel.
spell for the
Overnight, work men dismantle the
kitchen. Replace countertops and cupboard doors and soon you do not recognize
your own house. The place where the paint cracks on the ceiling reveals a river
of water, near where the train tracks split the room. We keep moving the couch
to the other side, but the light down the tunnel grows larger and larger. Last week it took out the bookshelves. Took
the tail off the cat. Even the neighbors, strange and clamorous through the
hole in the wall, where you find an entirely new house, full of everything you
lost. Single shoe. Broken clock. Frocks and feathers and strange furred
creatures gone slack on hangers. You'd even find your mother there sometimes,
alive again and crawling the floors.
She'd never get it clean in time. The inner space, so much more vast
than the outer. The thin wall that separated them nothing but a row of curtains
you were always hiding in, but still too scared to look behind.
dulcetly: notes on the bookish life. She lives in Chicago, where she runs dancing girl press & studio.