December 1998 / Volume One / Issue Three
Alice Cone
Your heart's cooling--

like an engine cut off
five minute ago,
emitting soot
beneath the hood
of your old Valiant
without a shudder
or a sputter; or
it's like ashes
sifting through a grate
to a marble hearth
the morning after
someone's annual
Christmas orgy; only
as warm as a body
that expired
half and hour
before now;
the temperature
of thermometer glass
removed from the tongue
just this instant.

You're like a vase
filled with tepid
tap water and given
asylum on a table
angled away
from the yellow glow
that continues to seep
between draperies.

Your blood pumps
without racing, and you
are no longer afraid of
the possibility of rodents
scurrying behind walls
or past your ankle.
Scraps of fur may
decorate your rugs,
but you don't need
to tell mouse
from the acrylic fluff
the kittens bat
and bounce upon, brawling,
because you can see the battle
is just plain fun,
a no-alarm fire.

Lat year, in a fever and
foaming at the mouth, you
blinded and left him,
came here and crouched
in odd corners.

Now you can sprawl
across these floors,
for this is the summer
your children drape
blankets over curtain rods,
spread white sheets
across the shoulders
of chairs, make temporary
tents that shelter enough:
you dwell in private, slant
front room shadows
while the sun, scant memory,
bellows and blazes
out of sight, across
a barely acknowledged
flame-blue sky.
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