Jan Selving

Destroyer

 

Because she believed

            there was something

 

she could have done

            but didn’t

 

when a man pinned her

            to a metal pole inside

 

a train careening

            underground, touched her

 

beyond any flicker of doubt

            then disappeared

 

in a throng of rain coats,

            she walked home

 

past flower boxes filled

            with dying petals

 

folding in on themselves

            in stages of silent fury,

 

turned her key in the lock,

            and paused,

 

a black shape caught inside

            a doorway, unsure 

 

what to touch—it all

            looked as if it belonged

 

to someone else—

            then saw the photographs:

 

rising tides, rivers, forests,

            faces, graffitied stone—

 

each darkening into its borders,

            shades of gray

 

and black rising in the developer’s

            slow-pacing waves—

 

all come into their own because of her

 

she released them   

            from their frames

 

and tore them up. 

 

Abandoned Church at Cuchillo

 

The gleaming

                        is the whale—

 

a white stain on gray planking,

            a knot in the floorboard for an eye. The rest

 

                                    buckled

 

plaster, coarse stains like torn hair trending

            from rusted nails.

 

On the cross, a faint outline

                                    of collapse

                                                down its shaft.

 

This church with its tin roof and

            vaulted crisscrossing beams

                                    is an overturned boat,

 

a storm gate trapping the selvage

                        of a swollen river,

                                                 

uprooted trees, squid-like, massing

 

                                    with the rain’s

                                    battering din.

 

 

She returns

 

for the things    she left behind.

 

The lost    heat in her dresses

                                    hanging lank and

 

mean from their wire    hangers, those brittle

                                    silk flowers.

                                   

Sometimes she comes    straight at us—

                                    jagged sutures

 

sealing her mouth.    This place

                                    among the living

 

she’s stalled in, triage    before she travels

                                    on.

 

In the lamplight the air crackles.    Is it

                                                                  spite? …

                                   

this sound we’d grown used to     like fat

                                    thrown onto a fire.

Posted on May 14, 2015 .