Construction Literary Magazine

January 2017 Writers Respond

Choncology; Novena for Reverent Keys

Choncology; Novena for Reverent Keys
Photograph via Flickr by steeen_ps
Choncology

He.
Her dad.
He wanted to squeeze the sea.
She was a kale page silting oceanic books.
When the sun was a diadem for asphalted seas,
Then he would bring her.
There to gather.
And count.
Shells.

She.
She carried sleeves.
He would fill them with calcified arms.
He swelled them with shells unsucked from soft places, weeds stranding.
He would flick away their wet handshake, polishing the shell against blue trunks,
Breathing on it, dying on a respirator, inhaling ocean and salt, drunk at the bar, ancestral
fish, the sting of belt leather, pink brains of the sea,
that time with the drill,
vitreous glow.

Face in shell.
Embarrassing to her.
Those things in his face.
He’d smell them.
The shells.
Elastic eyes.

A whir of olfactory machines, esters inviolate, wavelengths of moonpull and finswath,
Distilled to a taint, vapor on glass, the pink of shells, un-smoked lungs, freeze-framed
“Shell Collection With Daughter”: a portrait
Smelling wet.

Novena for the Revenants of Keys

St. Anthony of Padua stole bologna
naming it the fetid tail of sea dragons
forgotten of feathers.
It is they who make your keys disappear
Peoria or Pompeii
When your keys are gone they are the pilots of loss.
You pray to recover things elapsed
the [insert the name of lost item] now lost.
But you don’t name your keys the way they do.
e.g. It’s not a skeletal key
bony about the collar and head.
Peace to arrow hinges and iron jambs,
which afflict them, those Revenants of Keys.
To return they ask for keys
possessed by locks
wishing to lose all haunts
rather than one they cannot cross.
They dream of abandoned keys on tables
succulent in candy dishes
dangling ripe on hooks
linting cold pockets
forgotten as pondstones.
Their fingers full of pins and ridges
and skeletal wards, whether bridge or hook wards
solid or wheel—all are keys
pressed hard against ghostly thumbs
baking the shape of a little crooked house into the padding
warping the tentarch fingerprint into a mixed figure whorl
that remembers every latch.
The ghosts wake up grasping what re-solidifies beside you
on the table or in the candy dish
where you swear you looked a thousand times.
They wail to have lost again what’s restored to you
reaching airily for the spun gold
you have a thousand pet names for.
It scurries to burrow under your pillow at dawn
trotting after Revenants of Keys
who care little for open doors.