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Prairie Schooner 79.4 (2005) 164-166
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Wild Swan in Pool, and: Killing Delia, and: Broken
Wild Swan in PoolFrom our kitchen window, I can see the pond
Just down the street, a shallow saucer filled
With algae, ducks, and one lone swan
Who paddles circles all day long, pausing
Only to dip for fish and shake a spill
Of droplets off. His mate left him years ago
After some local dog ripped away his wing, [End Page 164]
And now he sweeps across the pond unpaired,
Alone. I say, "They mate for life, I know,
So why'd she leave him there, and where's she gone?"
And while I talk, I rub my wedding ring
And watch my wife tuck a strand of blonde
Behind her ear. She smiles and says, "Because –
The world is hard. Just be careful on the stairs."
Killing DeliaHumped beneath the comforter, she snores
enough to crack the house. In the dining room, the plates
shake in the cupboard, the fragile glass
and china shiver with each breath, and he thinks again,
"I can't get this diesel off my hands."
He drifts to sleep, the sound rubbing his bones like a cat.
He dreams of slim women and cool skin
then wakes and slogs into the kitchen, his glance sliding
off his wife's bulk. Wrapped in terry cloth
the blue of glaciers, she smiles into her shoulder, turns
the bacon with an upside down fork.
Rat poison? Sleeping pills like babies' teeth in her grits?
The seeds of apples hide cyanide.
How many would he need to crush with mortar, pestle?
"Would you stay and hold me for a bit?"
she asks and puts his plate before him. He nods and dreams –
a thousand red and perfect hearts, cored
beside the back porch, rotting in shade and a blank sun. [End Page 165]
BrokenBefore September burned away and nights
Grew long and cool as tombstones, the pastor lit
The chapel's boiler, a gut of iron and fire
So choked with soot from harder years it coughed
Black smoke all through the church. The pastor, lost
Within this false night, staggered to open
High windows, let out the dark. He paid
To have the boiler fixed and cleaned, but soon
The rumor ran around the women's choir
That Pastor's check had bounced. Since June,
He'd played the church's cash on dogs and hit
Rock bottom. He hanged himself in shade
Beside his house, the fields so full of light
He half-believed there was no such thing as sin.