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TO A CELLAR SPIDER
By Elizabeth Vignali 

 

 

Reflection in the Window at the Redlight

His transparent hands lift
pockets of blankness

and set them alight, bright
flames birthed in reflection.

This methodical heft and lift
and flick of the red Bic lighter

is his bartender ritual, sacred
rite at the Redlight.

The best part of his day:
when he raises

his tray of a dozen fires,
bright flickering hymns.

When he gifts stars
to every dark table.

 

 

To a Cellar Spider

Splayed and pale
x-ray of a star. You’re the living
thing inside it that beats
across the sky.

Radiant on your web,
your scratched and milky gnat-spattered
nebula. Fragile arachnid,
apex knees pupil-dark
and just as seeing.

They blink
as each chevron leg stretches
along the wall. They watch
the universe bend around them.

Carry your convections along
the glass spectrum of your exoskeleton.
Carry your convictions.

Luminous giant crawling
across the void—
when did your catechism last
go unanswered?

 

 

Her Reduction

It’s the solo ferry ride, of all things.
The unsunblocked patch
on my back, not having to listen
to Tom Petty, finishing a chapter.

The lovers fetch each other’s sweatshirts
from the car and smile
at their cameras. They align
shoulders to measure the constancy

of the horizon. They ask each other how
much longer till we get there.
Josephine Baker breezes along
through my earbuds.

Her voice cracks on I.
I wonder whether she and I can be we
or if the glaucous-winged gulls
with their careening blackless feathers

can be we or if the grains of sand
lisping beneath my shoes can be we.

The moon scrubbed down to scarfskin
and the lovers claiming even her reduction.

Even the scant of her white eyelash.

 

 

Fragrance Lake

the trillium’s palmist symmetry
a fortune in life-lined petals
ancient fern, leaflets plunged to their hilts
in stained rachis bone
green tongue stones, nettled fossils
blinking their stings

faces turned to the rain
roots buried in light

no tow-headed fairies under these toadstools
just the brushed locks of golden calyptras
redstem bentleaf and purple wall moss—
common and obvious—
and silver cushion’s larcenous awns
reflecting someone else’s color

and yet the light sponging under the surface
the light beaked slender in clumps of fern

while lovers’ moss on rotten stumps
tremble spores on their wet fingertips

 

 

Nocturne

I
I warm my hands with a tin cup
of hot chocolate and rum,
keep vigil under the lunar eclipse
while the children conjure the maundering
bats; they throw stones in the water
and up in the air to summon
the wild inky creatures.

They circle the subdued moon with small fingers
sure of their dominion.

See the slick and shiny part? one says
to the other. That’s the moon smiling.

II
Somewhere in the ocean right now
there’s a warm-blooded moonfish,
tinfoil skin so thin a fingernail
can scrape it away.
Fins red as though
he has already been speared.

Even science can’t explain
how he heats not only
the cold blood in his veins
but also the ocean around him—
how he wills his heart hot.

III
The match pins light to the tip
of my cigarette, an illicit ash lamp
outside my sleeping daughters’ window
under the blue bowl of sky
chipped with stars.

The eclipse is ending
and the sun’s light salvages
the moon from earth’s shadow,
parcels out the gleam
in luminous increments.

I tell myself I’m not lingering
to see if I, too, am worth saving.

IV
Moonfish,
you bring the night with you like a gift,
cup it in your cool hands, carry it
in the pockets of the jacket you
press against my sleepy indoor skin.

You are still sleeping
when I get up in the dark
of early morning.
You sleep like one
who wants to be caught.

The moon is so bright
my retina makes room for it.

A semi-permanent place so
everywhere I look

there’s a moon.

liz

Elizabeth Vignali is an optician and writer in Bellingham, Washington. Her poems have appeared in various publications, including Willow Springs, Cincinnati Review, Tinderbox, Natural Bridge, and Nimrod. Her chapbook, Object Permanence, is available from Finishing Line Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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