Amoe­bae

The Iowa Review - - NEWS - Re­becca lehmann

This is a poem about telling the truth. Don’t look for love here. You won’t find it. You’ll find the night, crusted with galax­ies, hitch­ing above the un­turned chevrons of my house. You’ll find a mouse curled in a ball in the wall next to an unchewed elec­tri­cal wire. The mouse is not play­ful. When I talk, no­body lis­tens. I walk through the dark of the house breath­ing out moist vow­els. Up­stairs, my son pre­tends at sleep in his crib. His baby teeth cal­cify into lumps in his jaw, push against the in­sides of his gums. His thumb, slip­pery with spit be­side his mouth, twitches only once. Mean­while, slugs rav­age the gar­den. The last of the pump­kin blos­soms fold in on them­selves, un­sexed and heavy with pow­dery mildew. In the ar­ti­fi­cial light of the din­ing room, I cut pic­tures of the baby into cir­cles and stars, paste them onto the nau­ti­cally themed pages of his keep­sake book. Each snip of the scis­sors punc­tu­ates the un­leav­ened night. Say the night is loneliness. It’s not. It’s the thought­less night. Nor am I white­hearted Atro­pos. In the base­ment, the cis­tern crack­les with spi­der­webs and dust. I do not place ten pen­nies there and re­turn to find a pitcher full of ocean wa­ter. In­side the wa­ter, only amoe­bae and un­re­hearsed light.

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