Being Your Eyes
Then, the sparrows
as they start to gather
at the empty feeder,
swinging as it sings
Then, the crows,
black moiled masses
of undulating operas
against the blue, blue
Then, the sky,
framed with fingers
I recreate your photos;
trees of yearning leaves
Then, the year will pass
If I don’t turn away
I won’t know the
difference between us
At my last visit I was intercepted
at the door by a septic nurse.
She suited me up in thin latex gloves
and a paper jacket the color of ripe lemons.
I moved tentatively toward your bed,
touched your cool hand lightly.
A dozen overused metaphors
came to mind –
I was a sun beaming down.
A daffodil rustling in your
little garden. A caution light
flashing. A canary barely breathing.
But I couldn’t settle on anything
to match the dissonant music
of the machines humming
and pinging you stable.
So I left you there, asleep
in Ativan bliss,
little bubbles bursting
at the side of your mouth,
while a meteorologist smiled
from the screen and introduced
the weather for the rest of the week,
sunny but cold.
My father raised chinchillas. But
I only remember their skins and the cages he kept them in. My mother
used to tie my brother to a tree by the straps of his overalls.
She herded us like sheep behind a white picket fence in the
backyard. My brothers slept in the attic crawl space. The older
used to stick the younger’s head to the pillow with chewing gum. After
the older moved out I had to share a room with the leftover
brother. He used to pin me down and tickle me until I cried. We
trapped frogs, stabbed them with homemade spears, stripped the
skin off the legs. My mother would fry them in Crisco. My father
pinned butterflies on squares of Styrofoam and hung them in my room.
Hellman’s jars with hole-poked lids held hostage my
menagerie of baby frogs, crickets, moths and spiders in rows next to my
mother’s jam. I had a hamster named Debbie
but she escaped. My brother kept a chameleon in his
top dresser drawer that he always forgot to feed. One day a stink rose from
behind his balled up socks. Scores of dead goldfish were flushed
down the toilet.We chained our dog to a tree in the front yard.
I skinned a mole once that I had trapped in my mother’s garden.
My father always showed me the pelts from the chinchillas.
He would rub them against my cheek:
“Aren’t they beautiful?”
The Secret Life of Socks
Every time I did the laundry another would be
missing. I set aside a shoebox for the abandoned ones in case
a match turned up under a bed or mixed in with the whites.
Soon it overflowed. A pink one, a blue, green knee high, ruffled
bobbie, two blacks –
not the same pair. Even my favorite argyle.
I decided to have Dave come by to open the back
or pull out the washer’s drum or whatever an appliance guy does
to solve such problems. He found nothing but gray lint balled up
by the mouth of the hose. I paid him sixty bucks.
The next night I dreamt my father was the Maytag
man. A tool belt sagging from
his hips. He acted as though he had been away
and not dead for sixteen years.
I asked where he had been. He wouldn’t tell me.
Just leaned over into the yawn
of the washer. There, on his shoeless feet, layer
after layer – the missing socks.
The Secret Life of Pants
When I pulled them out
of the drawer this morning,
I swear, I heard them heave a sigh.
I thought it was relief –
it had been so long since
I’d worn them.
Maybe it was disgust.
They struggled when I tried
to pull them on.
Straining against my thighs.
Grumbling up over my hips.
The zipper refusing to close.
Where have my pants
been to make them
turn against me?
© Gabrielle Zane, 2002