Cane and Murrah (or The Glass-Blower's Daughter)
This is a place where bones settle
soft as fog against the earth. Here,
touch is dull knives, broken tongue
of waxy flame. Fissures
of morning sun cross this mattress
where you and I have met before,
pallet of want and whispered
blessing, your eyelash on my cheek.
Tomorrow, our children will melt
before we know they're born,
the car will break down on a ramp
outside the city and we will walk
to the bar without calling for a tow.
On the juke box, a song
we're too young to remember
but know anyhow, like we know
our mothers as children, or think
we do. Mine liked maple candy
but not cream, yours tight-roped
the clothesline in red Mary Janes.
We will ignore errands, money
owed, as our blood thins over a pool
table with a slow left tilt. I will
be drunk enough to win the first game
but not the second. You will not gloat
when I scratch the eight-ball. At shift-
change, there will be nine dollars
between us, enough for a cab home,
cold cereal before sleep. Box fan
in the window. Deadbolts snapped
into place, clothes like breadcrumbs
from kitchen to bed frame. I will
chew ice cubes to stay cool, tiny
glass castles. Air heavy in the gulf
of our bodies, the steady pulse
of pressure rising; rain before morning,
before sleep. Your lips a spider, a penny.
I need something to hold, sugar or sand,
a cigarette lit and passed between us.
We won't speak but ask questions
with each exhale. Who says our sweat
on this sheet can't become glass?
She is Wearing Blue
There are birds in her hair but I only notice
when she is wearing blue. When I try
to touch them, their feathers turn to milk.
How those curls shine, like glossy
pages of a magazine, like wax shavings
from crayons. I always preferred
midnight to navy in a box of sixty-four.
She chose periwinkle, powder, cornflower,
her colors pale and fading.
She is wearing blue and I am trying
to untangle the nests against her skull.
She is laughing and I've forgotten
how to joke. Our voices disengage
from our throats like beads and charms:
Saint Christopher medals for safety;
bull horns to chase away bad luck.
She is wearing blue and I am pulling cotton
from her mouth so she can speak
without pain. She has never lied but
I don't know the truth yet. Sometimes
she shares her questions. More often,
she lets me carry the past like carpet bags
or suitcases filled to bursting. I am
her bellhop, her courier. She is my burden.
She is wearing blue and her hair is trailing
across the balcony like Rapunzel's. No one
escapes these curls, a cherry bomb
or a starling in her fist. Her fingers stay put.
I know this is magic. I cannot defend her
to the children whose words
she takes away when they misbehave.
She is wearing blue again, but the birds
are gone. We are alone, making
breakfast before the others wake up.
We whisper half-sentences that finish
themselves because the only conversation
we ever have is the one we started
a thousand years ago when the birds
were in my hair, not hers.
This Kind of Luck
I tried to wash the night off my windows,
but stars kept crawling in. Shadows
disengaged from my fingertips,
tiny wings drifting away. Yesterday,
I prayed for rain, got locusts, prayed
for locusts, and turquoise fell from the sky.
I'll never win the lottery with luck like this,
but still waste money on scratch-off tickets.
I don't need a nickel to tell me I lost.
All night I've played the memory game;
pictures, old letters, notes I wrote so I wouldn't
repeat myself, but I still can't say no
to a man in a pickup truck, still want to mend
lives with words like stitches. Ragged incantations.
Only fireflies can light this sky. And still,
I'm waiting, still afraid of the dark.
Sara Tracey's work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Lily, FRiGG, Softblow, and Hobble Creek Review. She is an English Composition instructor at the University of Akron and associate editor of Barn Owl Review. She is the 2007 winner of the University of Akron's Sam Ella Dukes prize in poetry and a recipient of a Wick Summer Fellowship in .