two poems

by Rebecca Patrascu


Sometimes we get the scaffold,
the prop against which we lean. Some days
we get a green boat for the narrows,

a wish granted, the bridge toll paid
by the SUV ahead. Small gifts that stave
off neglected needs.

We each bear wounds we’ve half-forgotten
till someone bumps them, and there’s the smart.
It’s like tinder

spreading itself open for sparks.
The heat that most resists the quenching,
saying what’s dry burns best.


Evening Walk With Dead Parents

From the west, the wind has maneuvered its pillow of fog
over the face of the sleeping hills, and held it there.
Or say that the wind’s removed the hills from the memory of themselves,
working spells with fog to suspend earth in a pool of forgetfulness.

Better? I can spin weather either way. After all,
weather spins me as well. I swing northeast, revising
from ugly to comely, the clearer to be seen. Not truer,
but in a kinder light. Painting the sepulchre clean.

Perhaps you do this too. Maybe you also were adopted.
Maybe you lay in bed at night, no more than five,
sheets over your head, imagining at any second
the knife that would plunge through them, into you?

That was slippage. That was truth, working its way up
like a molar. No amount of tongue play will keep it down.
So I walk away from my darkened house and past the others.
If there’s a lamp on inside, it’s too deep to see from here.

LED streetlights kaleidoscope my shadows into shards;
I come upon myself suddenly. My vole heart beats its body
against the walls in a panic for an exit that isn’t there.
But no one has come out to walk with me tonight

except my dead parents, who of course are always there.
I have carried them with me for years. I’ve hauled them
around for so long, I now have huge muscles,
the dead-parent-carrying kind. The whole thing is absurd.

I saw that, recently. Dead parents kill a mood.
They are awkward at parties. They don’t stay put
when propped up in a corner. They get tangled
in the drapery. I think I should set them down.

I think that would be best. But for now, I shift them
into a better position. A way to hold them both and still
have at least one hand free. The sidewalks are uneven.
The fog hides everything. Wind chimes sound

like someone dropping the keys of a xylophone.
What are the mulberry leaves chattering about in the dark?
I think they are telling each other the dreams of the flat-eyed koi.
I think my parents still aren’t happy, no matter what I do.

Rebecca Patrascu is the author of the chapbook Before Noon. Her poetry and reviews have appeared in publications including American Poetry JournalBracken Magazine, Pinch, Prairie SchoonerColorado Review, and Valparaiso Review. She lives in Northern California, works at a public library, and catches honey bee swarms in the Spring.


Photography by: Xin