- Plumb, and: Unreliable Narrator
If the walls are made of hair, imagine then the timbers as bone.
One day we arrived.
We brought with us our money, our expectations.
We could picture it all [End Page 162]
back then— hearth-hearted, backbone of stairs, windows opening their eyes beneath a lintel’s earnest brow.
From the gut, we mortgaged our future.
Time will tell, the basement whispered. Doors could fly open; gullets could flare. The grout could someday seem a kind of gristle.
From here I can tell you
some of the stories. You see, the way the light, the way the sun, slantwise, milking the glass, and the mind traverses even the oddest little spaces—
a tiny ravel in the carpet, the thread-like crack above the door. There is a nest
of hornets in the wall— drilling bumping up against the plaster. I sit
and wait. Surely some of them will make it through— [End Page 163]
stingers poised; hindquarters, quivering with cabined rage.
I slept the deep sleep of a queen. In my dreams, the walls were plumb; the windows of the house were painted black.
If night existed, I could not see it coming. If there was wind, there was no evidence— no disarray, no broken limbs.
Years later, I awoke. The bed was smaller than it had been. There was a groaning; the walls began to tremble and pitch. Through a scratch in the paint: a gleaming dagger of moon.
It’s nothing, he said. Go backto sleep. He smiled as he reached for the paintbrush, humming narcotically.
Beneath the sheet my fingernails were sickle black.
Each year the wisteria staked its heights on something larger than the average house. [End Page 164]
It grew and grew. Once supple, its greenstick fingers petrified and crabbed.
Spring came. The sun warmed the earth. In summer wood wasps whined and hurtled through the lacy green.
I did what I did best, sitting clear-eyed in its dappled shade.
It’s no good, he cried. We’ll loseeverything. He hacked
and hacked. The wisteria roped her sinewy arms around the porch.
Never mind, said the fencepost to the stoop. Between them a leaf crabbed, the walkway choked with weeds. Two crows
set down with outspread wings to juxtapose their shadows. [End Page 165]
Do you remember the rain, do you remember the dog barking, didn’t she die, wasn’t she carried away in the night with the storm, what time was it then, was it March, was it spring, was it raining, didn’t the water churn like oceans round our feet, were you there, do you remember the look on my face, do you remember the rain and the crash and the dog, barking—
I remember your voice like the trees, even at night in the wind, I remember the noise, I remember the flashing of teeth. You wouldn’t look me in the eye that night, was it the time, was it the night, was it the spring, weren’t the houses lit from within and the people in the houses warm and dry, weren’t there clouds, wasn’t it raining, what was the dog doing in the road—
There was the feeling of her weight in my arms and then only the rain and the smell of spring rain on the dirt, and there was a moon as the night would have it, yes, of course, do you remember the moon, do you remember the words, do you remember you could not look me in the eye, and the rain swallowing our feet and the promise of more, and the dog in the street, silent, were you there— [End Page 166]
Kim Triedman won the 2008 Main Street Rag Chapbook Competition for her collection bathe in it or sleep, and the 2011 Ibbeston Street Press Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in Appalachia, Salamander, Albatross, Women’s Art Quarterly, and elsewhere. After the earthquake in Haiti, she developed and edited Poets for Haiti: An Anthology of Poetry and Art (Yileen P), which benefits Partners in Health. She recently acquired representation for her first...