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February 7, 2013 | Poetry

3 Poems

Matthew Mahaney

3 Poems photo

 

Little Patterns, Beaks

Fishhooks the size of anchors have started falling from the sky. It’s happening two or three times a week. We look at each other a lot during the storms, both of us staring hard at our books or the television, both of us knowing it’s not the other’s fault but still feeling resentful. Once the clatter of metal goes quiet, I head outside to rake the yard, watch for the fire department and the power company to make their way up the street. There are always a few awkwardly impaled birds staining the bright ground. Their bodies swell and collapse, beaks pecking at nothing like they’re eating the air. Their wings take forever to stop. I never tell you about this, how unable I am to do anything for them. How unable I am to look away.


Because Your Head is Surrounded

I am lying in a hammock strung between the only two trees for miles, sharpening a medium-sized knife. You are sitting in the grass a few yards away. After a while of me sharpening and you sitting I notice a noise coming from your direction. It sounds like you are saying something to me in every language but the one I know. When I look over, I realize this is because your head is surrounded by a cluster of brightly colored birds and insects. I get up and walk over for a better look. The insects are the size of my thumb. The birds, slightly larger. Swollen thumb-sized. I watch them hover and orbit in complex patterns until I can’t tell if my arms are still attached to my body. I’m not worried, or afraid. Any minute now I’m going to remember what you used to look like. What I did with my knife. Why I came outside in the first place.

 

Don’t Help, Don’t Stop

Lately your hair doesn’t shine like it used to. Your teeth are weathered stones. Most of your clothes are stretched and torn from catching on your narrow elbows. You keep insisting you’re fine, that I’m making too much of it. I’m nothing if not an enabler, so I stop asking what’s wrong when you moan, if you’re ok when you stumble. I keep making heavy meals and pouring too many glasses of wine, don’t offer to help you up from your chair. You take longer naps, start taking them every afternoon. I list your symptoms in my head while you sleep. Soon I’ll stop asking you to go for walks when the dishes are done. I’m tired of hearing you fall apart a little more every time you shake your head.  

 

image: Andromeda Veach


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