lillie kate CC
for Catherine Rahn-Root
Police divers shovel Lake Forever,
the glassblower & her bloodred starfish,
her orange octopus with the severed arms.
Dragged from weedy sand,
hauled to shore in a wire net,
she’s surrounded by paramedics,
half gorgon, half mermaid,
crowd gasping as her face softens,
fins & tail retract,
legs sprouting from her torso.
Then she’s the most beautiful, the unluckiest
woman ever born, diva flushed with morphine,
belted to a gurney. Diagnosis,
nails of Prozac, Seroquel,
volts drunk-dancing in her brain.
Glue. Collage. Crayons on yellow paper.
I talk to the unborn, she tells her doctors,
dashing a stick figure in purple.
Nurses prod with rubber hands,
the sharp edge of dull questions,
psychotropic dreams in the blood lab.
Clutching her breath for days, she fingerpaints
angels in the coral, how sunlight pools on black stone.
She waits for something, anything
to break water in the dark.
You treaded all summer in the blackberry heat
while I lowered myself into the drain,
fiddling with my headlamp,
calling to you in the heroin darkness.
Stethoscope, Narcan, defibrillator,
the paramedic’s fingers pressed to your wrist.
Now it’s winter, hard to believe
I’m still pounding sad songs on your baby grand,
two years & what comes home
to me every time is silence, & then more silence.
John Amen is the author of several collections of poetry, including Illusion of an Overwhelm, a finalist for the 2018 Brockman-Campbell Award. His poetry and prose have appeared recently or are forthcoming in American Literary Review, Colorado Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Brooklyn Rail, and Prairie Schooner, among other publications. He founded and is the managing editor of Pedestal Magazine.
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