Backyard filled with robins in November;
the cat not here to kill or scare to flight.
The robins are migrating late, I take it;
I wish them dead and wish the cat alive.
An itching round the shoulder blades,
a swell of gristled bone;
then waking in the night to feel
The heaviness of wings.
Unseen as yet, but felt as in
strained muscles in the breast.
She shakes wet feather out --
inhales the opiate of flight.
I am the Queen Bee in this hive; I make it happen here.
Others live in hives next door. Their dirt roads fill with traffic jams or donkeys
that run beside the asphalt roads in my world, all worlds ticking the same tock,
spliced like an orange by shrink-wrap membranes.
I wake up in the morning and re-create my roads and houses. (When I sleep the asphalt reconstructs itself into gravel banks, the siding shifts to dark green forests.) I remake my world in seconds.
Outside I see a small hole I forgot to close. A bird is singing but there’s no bird there. I blink my eyes and see the bird I just created, and the world makes sense again. I pull fruit from the trees and eat it and make a rabbit and kill it and make a hat – making, re-making, revising, never getting it all quite right – not exactly right, until
I end the day, falling back into the bed made from a tree I made this morning and cut down this afternoon. I crash out on a mattress made of clouds and Styrofoam made of plastic and air and iron springs welded from ore I pulled out of the mountains I made at daybreak.
I’m exhausted from the constant work of making and unmaking. I stare at the sky above my bed – I forgot to mine the asphalt to make the shingles to cover my house.
The potholes and missing parts are starting to be a problem. Should I fix them in this ghetto I’ve remade every morning for 40 years?
So what if there’s a hole in the sky and a hole in the roof? So what if I can see a dark sky filled with bright lights that might be stars or ships or light-drawn moths? I can’t be certain what they are, although I made them. But now it’s late and I can’t make it all fit. I feel more and more like moving to another world – if there was one I could get into.
is assistant professor of English at Northwood University in Cedar Hill, Texas, creative writing instructor at Richland College and arts critic for Dallas Weekly. Five-time winner of Dallas Press Club's Katie Award for arts criticism, community affairs and business writing, she has also won the Texas Historic Commission Griffin Award and the Sierra Club Award for writing. She has written over 200 features and reviews on live theater, visual and literary arts, and community affairs for Texas publications, including D Magazine, Texas Monthly, Lone Star Book Review and others. She originated DART's Poetry in Motion program, a national project placing contemporary and classic poems on buses and trains, and is a founding member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum.