WHAT THE FISH WHISPER

Angelfish in ghostly
   glaze ache
       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.


Elizabeth Volpe





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
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.
The Adirondack Review