In the Mirror, I Am Right-Handed
Staring at me: two twelve-toed leopards, one striped, one spotted, hunkered under the hull of an upturned dory. Their unblinking amber cat eyes watch for signs of midnight-danger. Suspicion is contagious. Why are they here, and what do they want? Why two? Leopards are usually solitary, as am I, and the waxing moon overhead keeps reminding me again, I don’t have to be whole to shine. Still, the shine I see is four amber eyes, yet the cats are strange now. They have only one body but two heads are covered not in fur but in calico. Are they waiting, not for me, but for a gingham dog? No, it must be for the owl, and they wish to set out in his pea-green boat. So what happens when I, or anyone, mistrusts reality? Today at daybreak, the mirror showed me thirty-three, yet tonight— the mirrored lake reflects me as if I’m old, and the owl has flown to zap vole or songbirds, so I flip the dory but find no leopards, only clawprints and not my younger self either. As I oar alone through the pooling-light, the moon—no, not the moon, but my dead father, who taught me to write and row— keeps saying, Leftie, whatever you do, keep on trying to shine. . . .
Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On
There’s nothing under my skin but light. Eerie light, rough like the moon on my ceiling that glowed in the dark when I was a girl. If I say this light is cold, will you admit its craters as well as its glow? In a chilly bed, I’m alone here, and the mercury thermometer under my tongue will only admit to 96.7°. What I’d imagined before house arrest this viral year was—at the door—the arrival of my hot Will-‘O-the-Wisp hefting his backpack and cherrywood lute. With a birthday coming, I’d planned for apples and honey and madeleines, his hands to warm my feet, my body, make that odd light beneath my skin pulse with his heat. But the honey has crystalized, apple is wrinkly as my face, the madeleines now fluted stone. No dream, only reality. Doors locked. Windows all shuttered. The light under my skin grows faint, but I fold my arms tight across my chest, rocking, rocking, chanting to that uncertain beam, unwilling to let it sputter as I sit in bed still rocking, humming now, unwilling to stop, afraid to fall asleep and let it die before I wake.
Kayak in the Time of Covid
Don’t laugh, please. But notice the children cancel me when I explain that the kayak is impartial. It doesn’t care if the lake is mirror-smooth or a wild gyration of white caps and isn’t daunted going upstream in an unknown river. It understands buoyancy and accepts without question the command of the paddle. If the paddle rests, it’s free to pick its own path. Can rock, spin, follow the wind, even beach itself. This one is tough yellow plastic made in Maine and sold by L.L. Bean. Though old, it still has the strength of youth. It’s not jealous, doesn’t argue with time or guide. I might consider it my friend, yet it doesn’t yield to me more than to anyone who sits inside. Yes, I tell the children, I love it, even if it merely tolerates who I am. In this sad, unpredictable world, though, the kayak doesn’t challenge, balk, stage temper tantrums, break any rules, yet she offers each day her own quiet and reassuring consolation.