Janeen Pergrin Rastall
With beads I pray, whisper to
Vincenzo Grossi, Maria Romero,
all the novice saints. I beg
for fear to fall away – the clatter
of unlocked shackles
like the child lost
in a crowd pressing
toward a subway door,
who reaches up to grasp
any stranger’s empty hand.
Purls for Jo
after Tomas Tranströmer
3 A.M. Night nestles on the porch railings.
The wind has stopped knocking. Across the bay,
street lights stitch together Marquette’s alleyways.
As when a woman casts on her knots of grief,
weaves in loose ends, draws from friends.
Her needles pierce each empty space
and she purls the darkness.
And when that woman falls into an illness
so deep you want to make a nest,
cushion her, unravel the layettes,
the mohair scarves and socks,
to tug across the past, gather back
her years of gleaming threads.
Secrets on the Way
after Tomas Tranströmer
Crows shout by the window sashes.
Light licks the edge
of the blind, flicks over
the hollows below her eyes.
Still, she sleeps and dreams
how bears unfurl, how claws
scar every sill and jamb.
Her days roil, unbound ––
dissonance in the core
of a cumulus.
When you tell her the past
is a room that contains
every moment, she unlocks
her parlor. Potted plants
guard the door, a smothering
of hothouse flowers,
caskets flung open, the wake
After the Attack
the examination room makes
her shiver. All the Woman’s Day
cover girls smile up with plump lips
from a basket beside the bed.
She concentrates on how
the paper sheet crackles
when her calves quiver, how her thigh
bruises blend into the gown’s
periwinkled hem. When the doctor presses
open her legs, she clutches
the bed rails, above her shoulder,
a landscape: blue skies,
field shimmers. Sheaves of wheat
graze rays of light. Among the crops,
a dark aisle grows. A man slices
a furrow beyond the mat, the frame.
Only she can hear the swing of his blade.
Caprichos No. 43—The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
Unable to sleep, a woman
sweeps feathers off her stoop,
gathers pellets beneath the pine boughs.
She claims as talismans:
a little mouse gristle,
the skeletons of shrews,
what the owl could not digest.
Bats arc and dive
past her uncovered head.
A fence of wings
cannot bar her neighbor.
She thinks she hears his horses.
Their hooves tap for weakness
along the stable wall.
By lamplight, she stuffs
newspapers where the wind gropes.
There are rings, lids, jars
to scrub, berries to preserve
before dawn reddens
of the house next door.
Janeen Pergrin Rastall lives in Gordon, MI (population 2). She is the author of In the Yellowed House (dancing girl press 2014) and co-author of Heart Radicals (ELJ Publications, 2016). Her chapbook Objects May Appear Closer won the 2015 Celery City Chapbook Contest. Her work has been twice nominated for a Best of the Net Award and for the Pushcart Prize.
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