Carol's Hands. Carol's Face.

Carol spins her hands,
like a flamenco dancer;
Carol bides her time, by dark
plate glass;
Carol stares
at twisting hands.

Ask for food; wait for food; stand
beside a plastic Lotto board--
grease-pencil traces, like
Mary Kay mascara, long past closing;
empty parking lots;
December rain. I scratch
a secret message
(never numbers,
never names);
I think about my father's desk,
I think about the slick and tick of
black grease pencil, the
grease pencil smell of
moving days.
Oscar's is empty,
not counting

Carol creeps
behind me, when my head is bent;
I turn; I catch a glimpse of Carol,
threefold: Carol, in reflection;
Carol: jagged silhouette;
Carol: umbral,

as the food is

Carol is whispering, whispering: lofty vowels,
soft, and consonants dental, labial,
mouthing her words like
bedtime prayers--she could
be saying

nothing more than
whisper, whisper, whisper, whisper--
I don't want to know; I turn away, and

Carol's hands
convulse, like novice
gypsy widows, fearful, silent in the
dripping woods. Again,
the flame: again, the jerking shadows
of her hands. I turn away, again, and

Carol whispers: (listen, listen ...)
Carol listens, for her wind-whispered words.

Carol moves, to stand in front of me.
Carol's shoes are neat; her stockings, neat;
Carol's skirt and navy cardigan are neat and
matronly. Carol's hands are calm,

Carol's face
is all messed up.

Carol's eyes are blue
and nearly swollen shut. Carol's brows
and Carol's cheeks
are leaking blood in ragged traces--beetle-dark,
Pre-Cambrian. Carol's face

is smeared with blood,
expressionless, flat. I can only
freeze and think of
infantry wives,
gathering babies, breaking camp, making
grease pencil marks, but

Carol's face
is lonely white beneath her black-red tracks.

Carol's hands
are smeared with Carol's blood.
Carol's fingernails
are sticky-black with Carol's blood.

Carol turns
to stare at night-dark panes of glass; Carol's hands

begin to dance, completely
of their own accord.

JDP 98/10, rev. 98/11

Copyright John D Porter © 1998

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