Five for Shadla

            ...There is a disturbance like a kiss
      through which cognition disappears.

            (words spoken into clay)

I ask, “How did you come to be?”
“I have two minds on this,” she says.
“On what?” I ask. “The green grass
of home?” she replies. “No,” I say,
“the golden lady-slipper.”

            (words spoken to the concrete slab, poppies growing in gravel)

This, my son (the Texan). His first words
were your name. He lives in this crib.
Generally. Sometimes, he’s unruly. We
make him wear the green shirt, deprive him
of the ketchup. His list of approved babysitters
is in the kitchen. (We’ve had to remove some
names, of course.) My right eye works well,
thank you. Although, some things move
faster in the left.

            (words spoken to the Japanese maple, boxwood, parsley among the bricks)

The dancer imitates my words’ movements.
Her stutter of shoulders and kneecaps press
into memory. Southern slur, ten-syllable
drawl turned in doing and undoing of

            (words spoken into Republican county headquarters)

The whole mess from Luther ‘til now. A rented trailer,
layers of cigarette smoke and wet cardboard. Jack
Borah’s cream-yellow Cadillac parked outside. Real
politics. Accountants’ lids proclaim, “OGILVIE
orange on black. Button rusts
red-white-blue. In Miami Beach, Gerald Ford casts

            (words spoken to the hymnal, pp. 5 & 15)

Steam hisses the 5 A.M. pipes, sounding like
human voice, talking us out of ourselves. Loud
crash offstage. Is this really me? Hot windpipe
full of nothing. And I am eating strawberry jam
on the crater’s rim, wondering how many cicadas
will be singing tonight?

Garin Cychol | Mudlark No. 23
Contents | from The Americans