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Prairie Schooner 80.4 (2006) 57-60

Whiskey Nights, and: Narcissus, and: Resurrection Lilies Lycoris squamigera

Whiskey Nights

He was still human
but he grew guttural and cruel.

Even asleep
he would thrash at us and howl
like a wounded animal.

What was it that tore
his insides?

Once he wrapped himself
in an electric blanket, plugged it in
outside and stretched out on the wet
grass "to watch the stars."

We prayed
that he would electrocute himself. [End Page 57]

(Dear God, those howls—)

Those were our moonless nights,
love at such low tide we felt death
was the only possible future.

When the priest offered
the blessing at his funeral, I saw
a light in the shape of a man rise
out of his coffin and walk straight
toward me.


In January, many gray voices wheedle
Time to give up. . . .

The leaves left on the shivering
limbs seem to listen.

The wind makes them tremble
like toothless old men,

to teach us a lesson.

But the paperwhites, fresh from sleep,
aroused, want us to love them

more than our despair.
We believe them [End Page 58]

when they promise us the stars,
when they whisper sweet
nothings in our ear.

Resurrection Lilies Lycoris squamigera

My inner ear hears
their glug glug glug
below the noise
of the visible—

they're gulping incandescence
from a 40-watt bulb—

wearing resurrection's
shining raiment.

Their vegetal souls
are praying to Atman—

(They look away from each other
toward the open window
but not in argument. . . .)

Their plant brains think
a blue jay's ravenous squawk
is blessing them. [End Page 59]

They sit in their turquoise
jar like swamis, kundalini
spines erect—

snake charmers charming
each other to rise, toward the white
noise and yellow music
of rebirth.

Their amber pollens vault
into the troposphere
from each stamen's pink stick

wearing its club foot,
its one hopeful shoe.

Susan Kelly-DeWitt is the author of A Camellia for Judy (Frith), Feather's Hand (Swan Scythe), To a Small Moth (Poet's Corner), The Book of Insects (Spruce Street), and The Land. Her poems appear in Poetry, New Letters, Passages North, and Women's Studies Quarterly.



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