Alinda Wasner

Home Improvement

On my third trip to Aubuchon Hardware
the counter guy goes, “You the Lone Ranger
or something? This is a man’s job!”
To which I retort, well, let’s just say
I got a hundred percent
on the pipe-fitting exam
so I guess I can lay carpet, Kemo Sabe.

And now back home with the
carpet unfurled in the driveway
a goldfinch high in the cypress tree
flirts with my yellow exacto
knife as it flashes
in the afternoon sun.

What is it I just don’t get
about the male species and their
eager conclusions?
But then I realize I’ve forgotten
to buy a threshold plate
so I’ll have to go back
to the counter dude
in his low-slung tool belt
who’ll want to sell me
a hack saw, which I already have.

You little acrobat, I tell the finch
now upside down
on the clothesline,
I could tame you with a handful
of nyjer seed;
too bad there’s no Peterson’s
for a peacock
in a blue shirt
behind a counter.

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Oh, She Said

Yes, that was your father
the dark one
whose eyes
held yours until you just had to
look away
but there is something
about the blond one
in this other photo
whose hair curls
away from his face
in exactly the same way
that yours does
and if you've ever seen yourself
in a photo
then this is it
there is something
about the hands
the way the elbows
rest on the knees
and the cigarette
dangles dangerously
from the lips
and you think
there is something wrong
with her explanation
but then again
there is something familiar
in the eyes
of the first one
that same fury
not quite hidden by the eyelids
despite the smile
and you think
yes there is something here
furtive and
in black and white
something secretive in those eyes.

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although he rarely set foot in the water,
his daughters could stay submerged
so long he believed
they were sea creatures
goddesses not of his loins
but born of the moon, perhaps
on a night he’d forgotten to pay attention;
and then there they were
the eldest suddenly taller than he,
the middle who had been never a child
but more like an adult in child’s
clothing, more beautiful than ever,
and the youngest
a paleolith who understood
without explanation
that if they were to venture too far
he could not save them
though he would try—
he had promised their mother as much
the night she went under
anaphalaxis claiming her
as swiftly as if Charybdis herself
had proffered the delicacies on the platter;
even now his head swims
with what might have been
though God knows
he would still go to any length
to tear down the sky if he thought he could
rearrange the clouds and the planets,
reverse the tides and the currents,
reorder the fucking universe—anything! to stop this drowning.

Note: the toxin, charybdis feriatus tropomyosin, found in some varieties of seafood, can cause swift anaphylaxis and death when ingested.

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