WHAT THE FISH WHISPER
Angelfish in ghostly
at the way
the mesh of the sea falls
away. They knife aside
the very skin they long
to enter. Oh, Love,
we ride our lives
against the swells, lurch,
the air slippery
with our falling.
Our lungs collapse
from the weight
of our clumsiness
in an element so strange.
Each hurdle's like undertow. We don
our rubber togs while the fish
fold their whole selves
into the sheath of a whisper:
We are kimonos of blue, saris of green, coral
beads, every crease of sea.
AFTER A SUMMER STORM
You can watch light bulbs flicker from streetlamps
on a night like this,
the dim-bright dance its own language in the shadows,
the air still throbbing
from so many slaps of light across its gray cheek
and you're walking down
the sidewalk, drawn to each lighted window, a different
message from each:
slatted blinds wound flat against the pane, sheer curtains
that shimmer like white ferns,
dark, heavy drapes. You choose a curtained window, guess
from a lampshade
where the couch might be, a pair of chairs, photographs
lining the mantle.
You place a dog at the woman's feet, a book in her hands.
She's alone in the room,
and you can't quite tell if that's the way she wants it.
You realize you're standing still
staring into a stranger's house, an ordinary house --
bland really -- no porch light
or potted geraniums. When the fog rolls in
the dance of lights dims
to something frail as a mosquito's pulse,
the one you feel on your bare arm,
the one you're not slapping, the sting
is such good company.
ELIZABETH VOLPE lives and teaches in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Her poems have been published in many journals, including: Borderlands, California Quarterly, Passager, Plainsongs, The MacGuffin, Rattle, and
The Atlanta Review. New work is forthcoming in Phoebe. She was a 2001 Pushcart Prize nominee.