Widower: North Dakota
The old dog dances up and down
mountains of saltpeter until he disappears,
shaggy phantom dusted white in a mortification of chalk.
With a thread taut in the red plum of his mouth,
he unravels the operatic wind. An orphan sound,
varicose and violin falls across the porch
where I notch a plank for everything I see.
Vultures, prophecies, a memory undulating,
slick as oil in a heel of Vaseline glass.
Like you, I can imagine inquiring from the grave:
What is the state tree? And where do I buy milk?
I have found my drawer-bible and bed
beneath the pits and stems,
though I have forgotten which side
to sleep on.
Moonrise Over Old San Juan
A cat with a sawtooth ear
and eyes like halved limes
picks at bones in the crooked quiet
on Ferdinand street.
An arm of morning glories trembles over him,
bunched and twilight-colored, waiting
for the white iris of the moon to dissolve
in the searing dawn.
The hours left are fumbled away like knots,
and under the pale blue of the evening,
a straw-weaver sleeps on the soft book of his swollen hands,
murmuring the word that the world has given him,
A ribbon in the lattice of night sounds,
the snapping of fish bones and the lonely prayer:
Bristol Shipyard, 2:13 a.m.
A swinging lamp.
Yes, there is always a swinging lamp
and loneliness enough to polish the floors.
The ocean is there too,
lapping at your insides, salting you
until your organs are soaked through with brine.
You have a wife,
a browned, spotted fishwife
peeling apples in a rocking chair.
You see how she turns the knife
how she always turns the knife,
slips it under the skin— a smooth surgery.
A single red serpent curls away
from the white flesh
to coil, slick with afterbirth, at her feet.
Yes, there is something under the floorboards
that scratches in the night.
Through the window, a shawled figure
peddling fortunes and paste jewelry.
At her hip a velvet bag sagging with a scatter of teeth.
An old terror pricks your tongue
though you mutter
I have forgotten.
The rocking chair nods,
the knife snickers around the core.
On the table: your hands, a candle drowning in tallow,
the exposed flesh a dull custard,
a chipped plate of blind eyes
blinking when you turn away.
Emily Yaremchuk is a third-year student at the University of Virginia studying English and Anthropology. Emily has been published in the Virginia Literary Review and several youth poetry anthologies. She is the winner of a Scholastic Writing Awards Gold Key.