Best of the Net 2010  



Vacancy


My brother claimed first the motel room we would
      all later share; on the farthest edge

of the farthest bed, he hunched over his guitar,
      the red Mustangís solid body unplugged--

his songless strumming thin, antagonistic.
      Just outside the door in a folding chair,

my father studied again the intricate
      vasculature of his map, and my mother,

who could not swim but who no doubt would have
      saved me anyway, looked up now and again

from her novel with a languid wave.
      The only one it mattered to, I would have

had to beg for it--the neon pool glowing,
      moths at first dark exhausting themselves against

the humming promise of the water vacancy
      now tinted the pale green of ink--illegible.

My favorite place to be was just beneath
      the surface, the underwater pool lights

coming on with night. Weightless, I hovered
      around a dome of convex glass, a cool,

thick hemisphere not much bigger than the splay
      of my hand--and imagined deadlights

set into the massive hull of a ship
      adrift, windless, my family on its deck--

my motherís muffled call disappearing
      after them into those fathomless sources

of small light I did not want to give up,
      plenty of air yet in the joyous hold of my lungs.

- Claudia Emerson (from Valparaiso Poetry Review)





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