The ridge of snow overlays the last major yeah
escaped from out under my breath,
now just the deep of cold.
On our walk the dog collapses in joy at the sniff of another dog
All night my hands
had twitched under covers, dried out
by the heart of heat we pump and burn,
a dump of oil on oil.
Universe consuming universe—our clamped up souls
have no choice.
The bird in the morning streams through the air,
a delight of brown wing flashing against blue
a tease flying from bare branch to bare branch,
dog half crazy with desire to hunt it down.
He, too, clamped, the leash a tangle between us.
Sidewalk indistinguishable from street,
walkways from porch stairs.
There is no way to go I tell him,
standing between dirty barricades of snow.
We slip in between the mess—my boots and his paws
churning together against small caves of salt, dirt,
black brown snow, frozen tire marks and bands of ice.
In morning light at least it’s all crystal.
And somehow we’re led back
to the center of the drift.
I’m listening to him
listen to me over the cell phone line
a low shwoosh of small stories
meant to close a gap in time we’ll have
when I return. My voice a slow trickle
like rivulets of river water over small stones.
I watch a small bird in the underbrush
as I tell a story of our daughter’s phone call.
He says he is staring out the window of our kitchen
at our dog on our porch who is staring at a bird
in our backyard. He puts the phone
to the dog’s ear to see if he will recognize my voice.
He says the sound of me
does not recall me for the dog. I laugh.
He says mmmm which is different than hmmm.
I know it means
Before it Seems Old Fashioned
Before it seems old fashioned
I want to say what it was like
to be a girl I want to say
it rose in us like comets do—
seen to be new and strange
but with us all along
the “it” the knowingness
of girlness shaping afternoons
in basements glimmering
through dust, fluorescent light,
dirty buckets, furnaces,
old tweedy furniture and dolls,
blackboards, out of tune pianos,
second best dishes, stores of
toilet paper and party plates.
Inside the dirty gleam we sang
girl scout songs or played Candyland
or games without a board. We’d dress
for evil deeds—raise our voices
sound stern in ways we’d never really heard
our backs straight, our walk a parade
of loose feet in old high heels
loosened from what we had to be
above the stairs where we’d eat quietly.
Below, light and air
were thin members of our party
and our brains squeezed the information
we’d received into bodies shaped
like hearts and flowers.
What budded there
now so out of tune with anything
a girl today would recognize–
the air of basements clean as second floors
and the word “cannot” a strange echo
from a distant land I lived in once
with women who recall it slightly
and tell of it
with an odd ambivalence and wonder.
Julia Lisella is the author of two full-length collections of poetry: Always and Terrain(WordTech Editions) and the chapbook, Love Song Hiroshima (Finishing Line Press). Her poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Antiphon, Ocean State Review, Literary Mama, Salamander, and many others. Julia is Associate Professor of English at Regis College.