by Landon Godfrey
ON A CLAY TENNIS COURT overgrown with English ivy, a dog the size and color of a roast chicken sits and waits for a clear impulse to be honed into trajectory by a squirrel, chipmunk, rabbit — something small and trying to live. A tennis ball hides in the dark green milderness like a movie star leaving a restaurant through the kitchen.
When you say, I told myself I wouldn’t cry, I imagine you giving the order, No Tears. Your denial of tenderness could be the opening salvo of a greeting card with which you share a lack of knowledge about what’s valuable. The old woman wearing the shabby black cashmere coat who refuses to ride another train ever again, the father whose well has gone dry—he wanted to own land even if in a desert neighborhood—they carry a few tear-shaped pebbles in their shoes. If my light bulb had the right wattage, I could shine those stones into faceted diamonds or prayers to that deaf god you keep calling God.
To fall out of love—is to see instead of him,
a table, a chair.
this is my glass of water and this my jar of water these are the weeds I’m calling flowers this is my piece of bread this is the egg I’ll eat for breakfast and this is the tomato I’ll eat for lunch this is one of my walls this is my window this is the bit of outside that freezes on the inside glass this is the fireplace the logs the hod the woodpile in the snow this is my coat this is my chair I have paper and pencils this is a blanket with three stripes red yellow blue this is a silver bowl this is the silver bowl’s tarnish this is my silver fork I use it every day no tarnish I can’t tell you what this thing is it doesn’t have a name and I don’t want to give it one this is my silence
Recalled responses are notoriously unreliable, said Dr. K after I told him that I had been happy once. He poured a few drops of water through a rough brown sugar cube sitting on a leaf-shaped slotted spoon, until the absinthe in the small glass below clouded as usual. He didn’t believe the absinthe had ever been happy either. If I could do things differently, next time I wouldn’t sleep with my psychiatrist. Though envisioned responses are also notoriously unreliable.
LANDON GODFREY is a poet and artist. She is the author of Second-Skin Rhinestone-Spangled Nude Soufflé Chiffon Gown (Cider Press Review, 2011), selected by David St. John for the Cider Press Book Award, and two limited-edition letterpress chapbooks, In the Stone (RAPG-funded, 2013) and Spaceship (Somnambulist Tango Press, 2014). She co-edits, -designs, and -publishes Croquet, a letterpress postcard broadside poetry journal. Born and raised in Washington, DC, she now lives in Black Mountain, NC.