The Other Wife
If you hadn’t already been told of her,
of the soft nudge of her breasts at your back,
the delicate, tuliped, fruit-picker’s grip
on your heart, the lips and breath cool
against the pulse of your carotid, you may very
well panic when the hawk’s eyes swivel
down to lock on yours and, like a pair of katana
drawn, releases from the hemlock’s leader
and plummets the terrifying zip-line
of your complicity, and she tightens her
grip and whispers: You want to see? Then,
be still and see―as the silent, sweeping,
blade-like intensity of hawk veers upwards
at the very last second, displaying
precisely how one’s very last second appears.
is not at fault
for disguising that hole
you fell into.
Nor is the water
bright at the bottom of it.
Which should have alerted
you; I mean, really,
Or were you momentarily
confused, looking up
past your shoe
everything in the known
slap you awake.
We couldn’t bear the side-show atmosphere―
the jeering throng, the smug gaiety, the anticipation.
So we fled by the eastern gate. Not long after,
we spotted evidence from her pyre curling up
above the hills; but it wasn’t smoke, it was wisps
of tumbling night, vortices of soft erasure,
stars filtering through on the hard blue day.
Later, we were told of how that same fire
released not heat, but a sweet, moist breath; and
of how the assembly, enthralled, fell to their knees
when she was inhaled whole back into the ash wood
and maple, and the fire flared cold and white as
a frost, its colors dispersed in the trees.
How do you know?
Easy, ozone rinsing the air,
the dog spooked under the bed,
the leaves baring their pale,
like ink released in water. Listen―
a faint music seeds the wind;
and the bees,
the bees are jitterbugging
The poems you’ve been reading
are watching you,
They’re learning what it is you like
and what you don’t,
what it is you expect.
Soon, each poem will be the poem
you’ve been searching for,
at which point
you can lie back, captive,
Tom O'Donnell is a retired librarian living in Providence RI.