Not a dive’s precision arc.
Instead a lemming run and plunge,
oblivious to depth,
water’s in the pool.
Cynics shake their heads.
“Only a fool…” they say.
“Yes, yes!” I answer,
and drop my towel.
There’s a spider in the bathtub.
I saw him last night, and he’s still there
this morning, though I gave him fair warning
when I brushed my teeth before bed.
I need to take a shower.
But there’s a SPIDER.
In the BATHTUB.
My Dr. Schweitzer is arguing with my Eek.
He’s small –
smaller than a shirt button –
and round and 8 legs look like 3 too many.
But he’s in the BATHTUB.
Where I SHOWER.
I turn on the water, and he wiggles
a couple of legs but the spray doesn’t hit him,
so I don’t get a pass from Karma.
Then my Eek takes over,
and I get a piece of toilet paper,
and he wiggles 2 legs again but doesn’t run
so my Eek doesn’t get to plead self-defense.
I try to make it painless –
a squish and done – but then I wonder
if he was just trying to say hello,
and the shower’s kind of lonely
without him in there waving at me.
This poem is a departure for me. I found myself channeling Hemingway after reading for the third or fourth time A Moveable Feast — perhaps the best and least known guidebook for Paris. My thanks to Scot at Rusty Truck for publishing it this week.
At 3 a.m.
after one more day
without words, Paris
takes you in like a whore,
not surprised you’re back
for another fuck in the dark.
November. Brittle rain
scrapes the bone.
You walk the sheen of cobbles
to the Seine, where bodies,
freshly guillotined, once floated,
heads left behind in baskets,
past the great cathedral, gargoyled,
buttressed, to the boîte
on St. Louis where absinthe
and jazz make love, and a girl
comes to rub against you
like she knows your name.
– Sarah Russell
first published in Rusty Truck
Photo by Nicolas Vigier
“deer… like skeletons.”
Yes. Like skeletons this winter,
stealing silage meant for cattle
though it starves them.
They look wistful at the forest’s edge.
I want to coax them to my fire
before the wind tonight and snow,
Some will fawn in spring if they survive.
We shall shrug off matted coats,
graze among the daffodils.
We found a stream that night
away from everywhere but us –
water voices whispering,
the honey of first times,
wind feathery on urgent skin.
Perhaps a folly, our rush
into together and tomorrow –
forever’s promissory note
before the debt of everyday.
Let’s go back
and lie beside the stream again,
listen for the water voices,
feel the wind’s breath
before we disappear.
For fifty years mother’s face reflected
a marriage she endured,
a man she didn’t love.
But when he was blind and frail
she visited him often,
and when he reached out, groping
for her hand,
she would smile and move it
(again and again)
just out of reach.
I am so proud to know Steve Deutsch. He is part of my poetry workshop group and for the second month in a row, one of his poems, this time “Flotilla,” was chosen by Goodreads from more than 300 entries as a finalist in their monthly contest. To read the poems in the contest, click here. And if you agree, as I do, that Steve’s poem is outstanding, please vote.
You left behind.
one half a jelly donut,
stale as last Wednesday;
some clothing, moth-eaten,
mildewed; two shoes,
one black, one brown,
with newsprint for the soles.
You left behind a paper sack
of winter warmth, and poetry
by Whitman, Poe and Crane,
well-fingered and browned in age.
You walked into the river
and left behind four dollars
and eighteen cents, which I
have spent on coffee
and a banana nut muffin,
that crumbled in its freshness.
Your poetry; penned
in your perfect prep school hand,
was stuffed inside two newish socks
atop the brown and laceless shoe.
It is unnervingly good,
but I can use the socks.
I crumpled your words in their freshness,
and set them to sail upon the river,
page by remarkable page.
– Steve Deutsch
First published in Weatherings
photo courtesy of moneycrashers.com
When I told Truth to go away,
we were both girls –
skipping rope with life.
“I can’t be your friend,” I told her.
“You know my secret.”
Truth shrugged. “OK.
I’ll be here if you need me.”
She waved goodbye, and went
to live high in the hills
with hummingbirds and foxes.
I stayed behind, secure in my choice,
though joy was hard to find, I never
trusted love, and I reacted oddly
to the seemingly mundane –
lilies made me nauseous, Black Beauty
gave me nightmares, a breeze against my neck
could make me cry.
After fifty years, I looked for Truth again.
She hadn’t changed – still young,
sweet, smiling, glad to see me.
But I’d become Wilde’s portrait in the attic –
haggard, bitter, burden-stooped.
I asked what would have happened
if I’d let her have her way.
“You’d have suffered,” she said. “People
would have shamed you. They’d say
you made it up.
But you’d be free.”
– Sarah Russell
First published in the anthology Secrets and Lies
For Real Toads quote by Dickinson
Painting: “Two Little Girls” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
I close my eyes as a young woman
massages in shampoo, gently rubs
my temples, smooths cream rinse —
scented with jasmine — from my brow,
and you are here with me again
that summer day under the waterfall.