Thirty-Seven Days of Homework
She says, Patience, over a surprise transatlantic call
on day eighteen. And I hear, September or longer.
She says, I am ready to come home. And I ask,
Which one? The one she leaves me
stupefied in for thirty-seven days, while she
searches other countries for saints and frescos
and dying fathers, or the one I dream of
remaking upon her return. I say, I am here,
to myself sitting on the front porch under the tepid stars,
sipping lemon tea laced with artesian honey. I say this
to myself on day thirty as I am more than a little
afraid to tell her that nowhere in the world
where I’ve just traveled—Limerick,
Kinsale, Cobh, or Prague—
feels like home without her. And this house
I return to in America alone bears the proof.
The windows need cleaning.
The empty chair next to me sighs
under the weeping willow. The temple bells
do not clink their unusual glassy tunes.
They say, Only when she returns
will we let in zealous air songs.
The grass will weep with gratitude
for the feel of her feet. Every garden plant
will bend to reach her sun. The cat’s fur
stripes will stretch out in approval.
And finally, next to her, on day thirty-eight,
I will long to say, I feel at home.
All those years behind tinted windows.
On the go, a passport tucked in my back
Pocket waiting for reprieve, a passionate
Travelling, always hurt, head against mine.
Unfinished prisons, flying fire, worthless,
Worthwhile dreams. I chose the former
That I was the way I could not
Stand. The world now as belly
Recovers a woman, a man I must
Miracle and finally disrobe.
Bess Houdini Recalls the Curtain in the Modern World
Sometimes the hall window holds
the echo of your face. It overrules
the dark, and the applause like glass
breaking returns. We’re together
again, propped behind the curtain,
waiting for the cloth to rise and bunch
to take our bows. Your left hand picks
the same lock in my back each night
to rest upon. Sometimes, here,
after all the defiances, I feel
alone and grope for the woman
left rusting in the drapery
like an abandoned key. I hear
the stage’s edge call, my feet
easily wanting the drop and the crowds,
their hands on all the unrehearsed
places. Harry, you set out to disillusion
the world. Is this why
the window loves you?
Boats for Women
Yes, the boat sank. Yes, it broke in two like a stereotypical heart before it plummeted to depths no one could measure until seventy years later technology caught up and looked its ancestor in the face. Yes is the way the years oxidize the steel, and yes wipes the name Titanic off the bow. Yes are the lifeboats, the davits, the call for women and children first. Yes are the men who cry from the decks. Sometimes when I kiss her, I am leaving a yes on her lips to remind her that I will go down with the ship. Sometimes when she whispers yes, she is staying on board. But there is always room in the lifeboats for two more women. Yes is the fact that if we were alive on that night, we would have lived.
Copyright © Sandra Yannone 2019