The glassmaker arrives in the gluey dawn and lights his fires.
On the morning walk his mind usually loosens, shakes free.
Past the anthills, through sheltering alleys and bread.
But this day is already strange. He finds a thing
wrapped in paper in the shop yard. There are teeth, pins.
He thinks he knows who left it. He has been a coward with her,
loving her thinly, passing for thick. He is afraid.
He wants to close the great rolled doors and slide the locks.
But he can’t. The heat, smoke. And he took an order
for halfmoon plates and has to work. His mind takes rasping breaths.
Sometime afternoon the nearby sea comes stinking to his ears.
He sprouts fever in a curling soup. He begins to pull
some new clear pellicles down and break them
in delirious arcs. The cement yard sinks.
Spiked grouse raze the fence like suns.
Table 3, needs bibs, she can tell.
But they won’t ask for them. Unless a joke
is made, the wearing a scream. She guesses without effort
the evening’s events. Ties removed and pocketed
or discarded in their shiny cars. Now, white sleeves
pushed violently up. Hungry as dogs. Calcium shards flying,
pale strings of flesh. She brings them golden
beer for a while then, later, the glasses shrink
and the liquid gets green. She longs for
a clean room, breakfast at a window, New York music in the air.
A night’s sleep swallowed like a dense sweet cake.
A hundred fifty years before, in the building
across the street: pharmaceutical chemists leaned forever over tables
bleaching cloth and feathers and stains. On glass
they matched bacteria against wrecking chlorine in moving concentrations.
They wrung out parameters. Medical, commercial applications.
The thrill of wars followed them vibratingly home.
No filthy pigeons in their sheets. Radioactive glands
shocked the princely roaches from their sinks. Their tired ribs
adapted, spines fused. Like her, their bodies took longer each day to unfurl.
Breath pushing organs back to place. They tried each blue morning
to start unsorted. From a blank and bloody place.
Linda Wojtowick is a Pushcart Prize bridesmaid. She lives in an increasingly more crowded and expensive Portland, Oregon, where she can easily indulge her cinematic obsessions without restraint. Upcoming projects are: rest, and searching for things. Oh, so many things.