Erin Rodoni

And when you ask I will say there were birds

 

Swallows coalesced like inkblot tests

against the seep of night and redwinged black

            

birds pearled each telephone line. 

Day-traders drifted from scavenged tenements, 

 

rousing the barn owls mantric hunger. 

And Child, when you wonder 

 

I will promise: Dreams of flight

only panic my pulse toward 

 

waking. In the hour before egrets 

studded mudflats or pelicans trawled 

 

the bay, vultures posed on fence-posts 

like treetop angels, bathing skyscraped plumes 

 

in tule fog, while newspapers still lay 

like dogs in driveways. 

 

The plum of summers 

you will not taste. Mornings 

 

sparked from branches. Afternoons, a hammock 

of hay bales and stucco

 

of razed nests. Child, in this aviary of fire 

escapes, when your hand slips my grip

 

I will promise: Cities dont exist 

until we are lost in them.

 

 

You and I used to take night drives

 

Windows open to the dark,

some species of sweet

wine tucked between our seats. 

 

You taught me how to pray

parked on back-road beaches.

Green numbers on the dash

 

flashed like the sound of crickets. 

Seashells portioned the canned 

applause of creation. You loved it 

 

when I praised a neck, scythed 

like the milkblade moon, 

when I gleaned from wind-

 

stunted scrub the molting 

antlers of a buck, a hint 

of half-clean bone. Sometimes

 

a burst of souls and guns

would inflate your lungs 

like respirator. Your chest 

 

would strain the seatbelt, 

the pickup rearing toward

 that wonder, veering across 

 

the yellow lineGod,

you seem smaller now, 

behind your rifle sight.

 

You brag me through a wallet

thick with children. Im a little afraid 

of you. Do you still like to catch the deer 

 

before your headlights do? Catch them 

moving through the dark the way a girl 

moves through a bar when she still believes 

 

she is immune. Choose your weapon, 

I know your routes. Ill be waiting 

in your high-beams. Antlers leveled.

 

 

 

 Cry it Out

 

Pressed to the side of the crib closest

to the door, arms straining hard, as far

as body goes. I sit on my own until 

 

they go cold. Each contortion of her dark-

distorted face on the tiny night-green screen 

warps her into Paige, the summer 

 

that we turned sixteen. That ridiculous 

Ford Galaxy, a spacecraft of a car, salvaged 

from an era of bench-seats broad as beds

 

as if invented for make-out sessions 

at drive-in movies. Paige folded the side-mirror 

so that beast could press to the fence 

 

like a cheek when we went to see her no-good 

boyfriend in Juvi. She stood on the roof, slipping

him cigarettes and Snickers, her lips

 

through breathwet barbs. I know that 

if I give in now my daughter won

stop reaching. Shell claw my hair, tendons 

 

in my neck, my breasts, reckless, the way 

teenagers kiss, mouths too wide, teeth 

knocking teeth, tongues knotted like sheets 

 

out second-story windows. 

Paige met the boys I wouldnt

admit I wanted. Already cool enough to keep 

 

my crushes quiet, I sat on the hood, 

hugging myself in the dark, watched her lean 

beneath the morgue-faced moon, still fearless 

 

in her need. When love refused to lift us, we settled 

for speed. On the reservoir straightaway, 

radio tuned to whatever wasnt static 

 

or scream, we gunned that engine, 

primed for games of chicken 

on unlit highways

 

Erin Rodoni is a massage therapist, recovering nomad and new mom.  She is the recipient of a 2013 Intro Journals Award in Poetry from the Association of Writing Programs. Her poems have appeared in Colorado ReviewVerse DailyWord RiotMidwestern GothicAntiphon (UK), and others. She holds an MFA from San Diego State University. 

Posted on May 14, 2015 .