Judith Skillman

Six tall quart bottles
line the stoop.
Under paper lids
their heads of cream
shine green.
In the old hallway,
crowded with coats and shoes,
I am crawling
on hands and knees
to push open
the warped frame
of the door and poke my hand
through the broken screen.
My fist closes around a glass throat.
I am drinking the clouds and mountains
of upstate New York, gulping
the aurora borealis:
magnetic, stupendous, pink.
Here is Venus lying close
to the horizon, and Mercury
stuck to the side of the rising sun.
A skyline of black trees sways.
I am making up my first
white lie, taking my first
swig, skimming off the top.
In my mouth the taste
of contradiction:
sweet, forbidden cream,
bitter as the apple's broken skin.

© 1995 by Judith Skillman

Judith Skillman's first book is Worship of the Visible Spectrum (Breitenbush, 1988.) She is a regular contributor to Northwest Review, and the recipient of a Writer's Fellowship from the Washington State Arts Commission. Her poems have appeared in many journals including Poetry, Iowa Review, Southern Review, and Poetry Northwest.