First there is doorway, then a pan. Baseboards whisper to corners: Make room for new webs. A slow weaving of breakfast, scraped knees, and one story each night before bed. Cool hand on a forehead. Warp and weft, a window. Back door for leaving unlocked. A clock. The low determined crawl of love. Murmur of day fading to pale blue memory, day kneading down into dusk, its slow bruising. A lamp dreams itself lit. The beds turn down into praise-song. The sheets, a sea walked smooth. Lovely moan of cello music papering the walls. Their bones, the mingling. The roof, its night-psalms rising. The garden translates moonlight into mercy, into balm. Listen. Somewhere, half-breath of a name. Someone talks in her sleep.
The Mail Order Bride Sets Up House, Feels a Tremor
I make it appear. I say drain, sink, table.
I say window, doorway, gate.
I conjure a crack in the kitchen wall,
small river of doubt.
I keep it to myself.
You keep reading the paper.
Then the land begins its low moan:
O, my love, let me come nearer, give me your hand.
I’ll show you my mending, my sad trousseau.
A patch for your sleeve, knotted yarn.
Take me with you as you lurch
for the door when the shaking starts.
I sway at the drainboard, see you have gone.
The window tells of wild eyes, hills
gone liquid, the gate
clapping between us.
The doorway persists.
The gate slips shut. A chair
has trembled across the floor,
nudges at my loosening knees.
It holds me.
The Mail Order Bride Spills
Husband I must tell you,
I was brimming. I conjured
a clutch of cells in my middle
(the inmost room
is called ‘the keep’). Cup
of my belly, flooded.
My every hollow place
full. Even my sleep pulled
and trembled, threatened
to burst. My veins ran
storm-heavy, my heart rang
chords of possession.
A name grew
within me, many cells
feathering into sound, gathering
like dust into breastbone,
chin. The summoning of limbs:
Come knee bone, come wrist,
sainted stubs of fingers, rosary
of spine, a string
of fledgling wishes now
yanked and spilled down
my complicit thighs (‘furte sacre,’
the theft of sacred things), and
I am kneeling and frantic.
I am gathering blood in my hands.
I am trailing small footprints.
I am scrubbing our sheets clean all afternoon.
The Mail Order Bride in Winter
This is the season that taught me hunger.
A choir of unanswerables presides
over our small kitchen liturgy.
I pour. You sip, nod, then turn
to your papers. My body’s gone loose
from the love we make,
the eight-limbed balancing act
I’m all strum and jangle
as you leave for the shipyard, relief
and loneliness, both, dueling down
my long bones. I consider
the roast, wet and gleaming, waiting
for its useful pan, the all-day oven.
That you prefer your meat well-done,
while I’m inclined toward a little blood
pooling into small jewels on the plate.
Something with a little heart in it.
Molly Spencer is a poet, an avid reader of poetry and almost anything else, and a mother of three. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Literary Mama, CALYX, Linebreak, Thrush Poetry Journal, Rufous City Review, and elsewhere. A native Michigander and erstwhile Minnesotan, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and their children. She blogs about poetry, the writing life, and parenthood at the stanza: a little room for poetry & the writing life.