OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 9
Living with mice in the walls, one knows
the haunting—the sound of footfalls that
increases with the dark, the skittering
between stud and lathe, frightening
the house to waking.
They rest when I am restless then
the moment I drift off, their bodies fly
again. My brain is the same, insomnia
projecting its slide/show (shit/show)
of failings on a loop as a spider swings
hypnotic just above my head. Regret
runs through me until my veins
are lined with insect itch and crawl.
Spiders, mice, remorse –
the body recoils against all three. But
unlike mouse or spider, there is no
humane way to extricate frailties.
I cannot lead them onto a piece of paper
and release them out the back door,
or offer them peanut butter or cheese
as entry to a catch and release trap.
It’s not that easy.
This morning, I sat on the porch
as a hummingbird sipped a trumpet
flower, peaceful and perpetual. Never
at rest, a gift my ghosts have inherited.
There are no rules for the dead,
no maps. I turn and there they are,
climbing the walls with the clematis,
their whispered diction spidering
my sleep. We are a family. One web.
One nest. A congress of ghosts.
Donna Vorreyer is the author of Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (Sundress Publications, 2016) and A House of Many Windows (Sundress, 2013) as well as eight chapbooks, most recently The Girl (Porkbelly Press, 2018). Her poems and reviews have appeared in Poet Lore, Waxwing, Rhino, Harpur Palate and others, and her third full-length collection will be released by Sundress in 2020.