Gains & Losses

You and O’Malley run three blocks with a ladder,
struggling in your heavy gear. Trees vanish in
pulsed brightness. Coals fall. You see faces
the color of nickels, feel glass when you smash
a window, rip the drapes out and drop them,
cross the hot roof, crawl a long corridor
into its light then back beneath reeking gasses,
your hand guiding you down the body
of an unfurled hose. Smoke crosses the tracks
to the projects. On the corner, a woman
curses into a phone, boys sullen around her.
You’re afraid of the owner who cries
on the sidewalk, afraid of shouting,
early morning, “You whore. You fuck
my father, my brother. Whore.” You hate
the attorney, one hand folded over the other,
fingers neatly together. You pull the loose
threads of your jacket until they unravel.
Your wife turns to powder spilled on the carpet,
her shoes still in rows in your closet. Trees bear
every color, boughs clogged with blossoms.
So what if birds step lightly onto the lawn?
So what if the spots on their wings
are eyes? You go out for a shake,
Frank’s Café, soft ice cream looped
in the bottom of a glass, heavy in your hand,
milk frothed on top, cold so dense
the center of your body cramps.

Copyright 2009,  Barbara Daniels

Barbara Daniels’ Rose Fever was published by WordTech Press. She earned an MFA in poetry at Vermont College and is on the staff at Peter Murphy’s Getaway in Cape May, New Jersey.

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