Count Between the Raicho’s Calls to Calculate Lightning:
The bird is singing just before
it gets eaten—
flutes on the saw teeth of steak- knives threaded from the gutter
to hear the way serration chimes.
Front stoop chatter rattles garbage cans: echoes geese left behind
for the winter to keep frosted rooms
company. In the front room, I sing
the clear note of silver tapped against glass
for attention—you shave
wafer-thin almond cake, let the robins carry
on conversation for us, our manque trembling
on the edge of dessert spoons.
The teakettle sirens us to the honey-onyxed kitchen: scooped-out grapefruit shells & black
coffee-grinds compost in the half-drained sink. From the satinwood hutch, the deserted
engagement gift remembers polkaing on hardwood to Unter Donner und Blitz—over the
mountainous curve of your shoulder, I marked how the model dancers whirled in music box
confines: to avoid a May wedding, donate trousseaux a week before—pawn the ring & flee.
Sidewalk pacing: diversion to keep the web between my fingers
from itching under hypoallergenic metal,
insomnia soothed by counting
streetlights, jaywalking at three a.m.
On the fourth floor, I water geraniums naked, curtains open—
on ivory vellum, I draw exclamation points,
then cross out save the date—made-up flight
patterns doodled in the margins. You email me
a triptych of exotic places (Mallorca, the Amazon, Cambodia). I clip out
pictures of the Alps, snow-capped
onion domes in St. Petersburg, celebrations
at Nalukataq & string them above my bed. Pinch pennies between my lips
to save on fountain wishes & learn to dry clean at home.
Coup de foudre as geese fly south, honk homing songs to keep on course.
I dig for cash at the dry cleaner’s, jam my hip against the counter & cling
to an umbrella, two blazers, a winter coat:—your number
on the bottom of the receipt for five days with half-chewed gum.
Over sushi, you make a study of me: flushed cheek with teak walls,
reflection magnified in water glasses—
I pay for my own dinner, walk home alone,
listen to brontide spill
over the cityscape, rustle through beer tabs, cigarette butts.
Boil beans for the week
& wait: how many rings
until my better self clicks on? Hello,
In his tiny corner, the hamster burrows deeper in woodchip dreams. I run
hot water in the cramped bathroom, draw myself bedtime
stories on the foggy shower door. When the power goes out,
I paste glow-in-the dark stars on the south wall
until they phosphor on.
Amy Elizabeth Bishop is a senior creative writing major at SUNY Geneseo. She calls Cooperstown, NY home, although hopes to become a Manhattanite after graduating this May. Her poetry has appeared in or is upcoming in Gandy Dancer and The Susquehanna Review. She currently serves as the Editor of the GREAT Day Journal and as a fiction reader for The Rumpus and Wyvern Lit.