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by Laura Mullen

I lay down a long time ago not expecting to get up ever.

Now I think I should learn to be quiet.

I should read the news. I should watch the news.
Here's a tree, how does a tree feel?

Here's a list, your life
Lasts as long as it does.

Then don't interrupt them. Look. Listen. Learn to be quieter.
And she sat quietly (we couldn't speak around her, exaggeratedly

Mouthing the words. Pressing the pen down hard.

I should read the news. I should watch the news.
Get out of myself more. Take long walks.
Here's a tree, how does a knife feel? Get out
More. Here's a list, your life lasts as long
As it does. Eat something, maybe. Try the jammed
Window. Turn off each light as you leave
The room behind you. Leave your face in the mirror
Alone. Break the window into the bathtub.
The water—it's still warm, yes—it's fine.
Break a cardinal into the bathtub. Yes. No,
That's your hand, that's the voice of a woman
Where you cut it on glass, wher you cut it
Washing the dishes—there was a knife in the sink,
There was something broken. The splash
Of glass, your face in fragments. Now you shiver.
Break the tree: a cardinal, red on the dull
Green. Now it's raining. How does your hand feel?
Listen, quieter. Don't come home
Drunk like that anymore.

It is not a splash of blood it is a cardinal in the tree,

Whose shadow shatters but does not break the house.

Between whose dullest leaves — it is the end of summer — the fragments
Of an argument (my married neighbors) slip past, lift, flicker.

It is not that this has happened before or the urgency of my listening.
I was a child then. It is a bird flying. It is a green carpet,

It is a glass breaking and wine spreading to stain with a version of wings
Something green. And a woman spreading her hands to cover the stain.

January 1, 2000 in Poems | Permalink