Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

Three Poems

Three Poems

Photograph via Flickr by Frau Böb (buuusyyyy)

Crane Wife

After my young mother tosses
      a sleeping kitten into the dryer
           with a basketful of my father’s

laundry, she bows over the kitchen sink
      for hours, her long hair hanging
            like water frozen from a faucet.

She drowns his shirts, twists
      the bleached sleeves between
            her raw fists, like the myth

of the crane wife curling over a loom,
      weaving white bolts her poor
            husband could sell.

When he discovered her, plucking
      her own feathers to spin
            into cloth, she flew away—

We tried to wrangle the newborn kittens,
      but with paraffin eyes they wandered
            under sofas and woodpiles,

and sometimes we found them dead
      and piecemeal, the mother cat leaving only
            what she couldn’t swallow.

At nightfall, resisting our pleas
      for red apples she’d be forced to core
            and portion with a knife,

my mother piles the still pink-tinged
      shirts onto the front lawn.
            As headlights flood the driveway

she slips her arms inside shirttails,
      an origamic wingspan answering
            wind, answering the whooping calls.

Letter to Tippi Hedren

Remember after Hitch said enough pretending,
let’s put real birds in
, how you went on with your life,
strolled past two crows pecking dunes of cornmeal
off a muffin pan in the street. You didn’t gauge
their caws too close to a conversation or conspiracy.
All this time I’ve looked to you to confirm
the numbers of seabirds, the laughing gulls,
low-hoverers ever closer to the hand’s stale baguette.

Please don’t admit now that you can’t be sure.
When geese stop traffic, loosed upon the world
on my morning commute, or when I count forty-seven
hummingbirds at the feeder, keep the truth to yourself.
Allow me my awe, my sweet joy when a hawk lands
on the hood of a car, graceful and intended as a leaf.

Light, Lamb, Follower

My love offered to write my name—
a single kanji character—

the brush cigared in his teeth
between drafts.

And now I can’t remember
what they meant,

those brushstrokes,
night-ink comets and comet tails.

But at midnight, my three sisters
already pinned to his walls,

he dashed off my mother:
Lynn in Japanese means

grove of trees

and I stood inside it
catching lemons,

bushels and bushels of them,
falling, falling.