Macular Conception

This poem won Editor's Mom's Choice in the 2017 2-Day Poem Contest

The car: a mercurial beast, frightened 

by his touch or is it he who jumps? His hands

on the wheel, two stippled stones, sinking.

His feet magnets on the pedals, a push-release 

like breathing, but what do legs know

of traffic circles, pedestrians fearless 

in crosswalks. He sits straight-backed, eyes 

forward, a daguerreotype of stillness.

 

Her downfall: she can’t imagine things 

might be otherwise. Why would that child 

clearly rooted to the ground unplant himself? 

She can see everything. Everything. But not 

before it happens. Her mind is a camera, 

she thinks, not a deck of tarot cards.

 

The centre absquatulated, he sees in reverse

vignettes. Her tunnel vision and the tunnel is 

the part he cannot see. He drives home by

memory: muscle or counting the streets.

 

She used to mix paint, recommend the 

almost whites—colours that didn’t insist upon 

themselves. Tsked at the bombastic shades, 

she used the word copacetic as if it were a 

natural thing. Now her life is a house unroofed, 

the cold sky coming down, deafening.  

 

Sometimes he opens his eyes to find

they are already open—the world shocking

in its emptiness. He knows now how easy 

it is to confuse nothing and everything.

 

The shadows unlock themselves, knock 

into one another, reveal themselves

to be the thing all along: shadowless

children, feral or foundling, cropping up 

like rapid-fire flowers, long-legged 

in the scotoma that might be the sun.

 

I think of their house or rather smell it—

the pine of the bunk bed, grand-baby

jungle gym, where I woke always

startled to have slept so near the ceiling. 

The dank petrichor of the bathroom, his 

breath in the morning, the cooped-up

scent of all the toxins working 

to keep you alive.

 

She asks, isn’t this why we’ve been

going to church all these years? Everything 

is a test, she says. Faith begets 

faith, she says. And hers is unwavering,

even if it has yet to name the child.

Published online July 13 2017.

This poem was a winner in CV2’s annual 2-Day Poem Contest. Every April, CV2 challenges players to create a new original poem that uses all 10 words of our choosing. It’s poetry under pressure for prizes, publication, and personal bests. Learn how to sign up for the next 2-Day Poem Contest.