May 3, 2016

In the Rain House, By Shannon Connor Winward



In my dreams, the moon of mother's eye
splits and cracks, a river swells against
the branches of her lashes
and when it breaks, I wake up gasping.
It rained again last night. It froze today

my roof sagging with a drop of it
round and heavy as my head.
The grass stuck together, white, jagged
protesting my grunts and kicks, my need
to carve a door.  The afternoon rain

sloughed it clean again, but I am cold, cold. 
Summer is a ghost.  The birds
don't sing to me, the flies and beetles
have all gone; no chirrups, no roars.  The stream
has belched over its shores, and the rain

keeps coming back, thrashing petals
from their necks, knuckling across my leaf-
shadow floor.  I have worn
through my lady slippers, my gown
mother's careful stitches fray and shiver

my worry chokes and croaks like toad words
mud in my throat. It's time
to go.  Go where? The rain
will crush me, it will turn to snow. 
The sky is huge, the field is vast

a rough, shorn sea—I will be buried there
unless the owls find me first. They ask
when will I feed them, when will I crawl
from this house—it won't stand
forever; it yellows, it rolls

on itself, the honey brittles.  I will starve.
Oh, Mother, I am afraid. I miss my little
brown walnut bed, tucked and rocked
in your warm breath, your scent of bread.
Do you think I left on purpose?

Do you pray for me? Do you mourn?
Do you thumb shut the window?
Do you sift the barleycorn?
Do you imagine me here, stuck like hoarfrost to what
I cannot change?  It will rain, and I will drown.

The rain keeps coming down.
I used to row in circles round my basin pond.
My thoughts go round in circles.
I once rode the wild current
crossed the world

lashed to a butterfly.  He was my friend.
Now he's gone.  If I had wings, I would have
caught him, I would soar home, but I have only
these tiny feet, and Time is monstrous.  It marches on.
The rain stomps autumn beneath its heel

and winter is rushing in behind
with its ice and fear, its crystal pain. 
But to hell with tears, to hell with rain. It's time to go
go soon.  I'll lasso the moon; either that or die here
with all her wishes, all her dreams of me.

Shannon's bio: "My poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Analog, Gargoyle, Pedestal Magazine, Strange Horizons, Gingerbread House, and past issues of EC, among others. My poetry chapbook, Undoing Winter (Finishing Line Press, 2014) was nominated for an SFPA Elgin Award.  I am also a staff writer for Pop Culture Madness and a poetry editor for Devilfish Review."

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