I Sleep In My Clothes
by Dawn McGuire
Is stroke the right word?
Some Zen monk with a name
like a skin disease said, A word
never put a cloud in the sky.
So? It’s important
to have the right one.
Struck down by a god,
hurling a bolt.
Sunday I had a fit
over the Times crossword.
Woke up, head shaved, clot
dissolved, the doctor
pink with pleasure . . .
no weakness whatsoever,
just some visual—
My head hurts like hell.
All my fingers, all my toes,
arms, legs, shoulders, hips, ok.
Ok, I can swim. Ok, I can speak.
No ifs, ands or buts.
I understand the lesion
that split apart my splenium—
the little u-joint between hemispheres,
its cow-part on some menu in Paris.
So I cannot read.
Not even what I write.
like the pillars of Hercules.
What is this—
eneirding adoral zone—?
I wrote it.
I’m reading it.
I was a literate man.
Working through the sports page
letter by letter, stringing beads.
By the end of the sentence
I don’t care who blew the save.
My wife says I’m depressed.
Words. You know what it’s like?
I go to the page as to her body.
But I can’t feel her move.
I can’t hear her
call my name.
by Joanne Lowery
Unsuccessful thus far I grab a spade and dig:
feet, meters, leagues, miles deeper and away
from interpersonal earthlings with their expectations.
Self-buried I’ll relax in centuries of solitude.
Then the picks, brushes and vacuum—
a shout of delight, a whoop of discovery
as my Joanne bones bring smiles
to their scientific faces. I will be
the most complete Joanne unearthed to date:
my arm’s metal plate, my artificial hip and plastic eye parts
exquisitely labeled and packed, then reassembled
rib by rib, not a phalange missing.
They will analyze me for months, they will study
my ins and outs, imagine thoughts for my skull.
A computer will take skeletal data and re-create
an image of my unshriveled face. When the scientists grin,
a keystroke will make me digitally grin back.
Come look at our Joanne, they will proclaim.
Doors to the lab will slide open for the crowd
of journalists and curiosity seekers.
Lying in a glass case princess-style,
I will receive enraptured stares
and eureka, know that I do not disappoint.
Reincarnation in the Jardin
by Danielle Sellers
Crossing the church square back to the hotel,
I saw two dark-haired girls chasing each other
around a fountain. Their feet dry straw on the cobblestone.
Nearing me, the little one tripped, stubbed her toe,
went down hard on her back like a beetle.
Her belly so thick she wallowed there.
I held out my hand to her, saw not her eyes but a nose
caked with snot. Her hand swathed with rock dust.
I pulled her up, set her on her way.
Later, in the square again, I saw the girl tossing
a ball that trailed metallic ribbons like a comet.
I twirled with my sister through the twisted trunks
of Grandma Glo’s hibiscus,
our thick dark hair braided with palm fronds.
We dabbed our eyelids with pollen,
pushed open blooms behind our ears. Then back
to our imitation of a salsa, clacking Grandma’s
espadrilles on the patio’s Spanish tile.
The laces snaked our calves almost to the knees.
At the grill, our step-grandpa barbequed shrimp.
We asked for the cool of his Budweiser can
to our necks, and each in turn, a long, sour swig.
After I became an only child, I made it my mission
to save the insects drowning in our pool:
carpenter ants, ladybugs, palmettos.
I’d find a brown banana leaf on the ground,
scoop it under the surface, and lift it like a stretcher
to the cool poolside. If they had wings,
they flicked them in the air to dry.
Some marched off right away,
as if they’d never been so near death.
Others seemed to ponder,
not leaving the leaf for minutes, if at all.