Penelope in Firelight by Richard St. John
In all of his marvelous journeys
he’d never seen anything like it: the tree
that had rooted their marriage bed was gone
into autumn. He watched her for hours
sewing in the firelight, her still-lovely limbs
bare and moving gracefully; an effortless
assurance and letting-go that spread a tapestry
of yellows, duns and browns evenly at her feet.
These nights, when she turned from him in bed,
she meant nothing by it. A natural thing—the way
that fall comes on, and then, the hard, sharp
sting of snow. She knew as well as he did
that Circe and Calypso were only emblems of desire
that still burned on in him. That’s why he’d come home.
That’s why he studies her so closely now. That’s why
the slender, silvery needle, on which she lavishes
her easy, whole-hearted attention, terrifies him
as nothing on the fields of Ilium had ever done.
Though I couldn’t see her face
I watched a woman with your hair,
with your shape and way of moving,
even same style of clothing
sit down several rows ahead
at the afternoon reading.
But especially your hair—
henna colored, long and wavy,
and I thought, maybe it is you,
that you just hadn’t seen me.
There were so many people,
and it’s been so many years.
Each strand was breaking the light
like a prism, engulfing me in a rainbow
of memories, and as the first poem drew
me in I still wasn’t sure what I’d do.
At intermission, though, when you turned
to look around, I saw it wasn’t you.
And then, you got up
and walked away.
Bad Luck by Winifred Hughes
out in the driveway, smashing the smashed
glass into smaller and smaller shards, each refracting
me, my face in shambles all over the yard, mirrors
mirroring bits of broken mirror, broken
faces, exponential hammers smashing them
how can I contain the breakage, what the mirror saw
spilled out of it, our twenty-odd years in this house
from the back of the bathroom door, tongues
stuck out, bare bottom, leaky mascara, no secrets
worth keeping now, none left whole
and those the good years, so it seems, seven
bad ones up ahead, since I threw it all away, once
too often, too unreflecting, barged through the door
First the difficulty
of finding a haystack,
small farmers preferring
squared bales which need
to be kept under cover
and large farmers
sealing their round bales
with plastic, if you open
them to look for your needle
you risk disturbing
the fermentation process
which is protecting the hay
from rot and mold.
You may have to go
as far as Romania
to find the haystack
you are seeking
and then the needle
which you might have
purchased at your local
or bought on the internet
must be hidden
so you can make
which should you
stick your pinkie into it
while going through the hay
may make you wonder
with the ensuing infections
what made you
begin this search
in the first place.