Winter Prompt #13: PRONGS


Winter Prompt #13

We raised our wands and remembered—happiness.

Not easy for us, whose families were marked,

who could do things sometimes with a careless word.


The time Mother made me a chocolate cake

for no reason? Fetching firewood in the forest

with Dad, and he taught me to drive the tractor?


Making love on the stony hilltop, with hawks

floating above us on their way to warmer lands?

I raised my wand again, and again.


All around me those beings of light springing:

deer, otter, fox, crow.  Don’t get mad.  (Easy for you

to say, who can summon the dead.)  Keep trying.


Late that summer night, climbing over the locked gate,

crossing the railroad bridge, silence everywhere,

rounding the darkest corner, fine rain


clinging to the pines, then the circle of light

around the lamp in the parking lot.  Exspecto

again, and from the tip of my brittle pine wand—


(Ah!  That’s why it chose me!)—

a meadow vole rises, carries me

to safety under the long wet grass.


. . not inexplicable, only unexplained
~Dr. Who

She was already a grown-up
when she caught her mother
throwing all her dolls into the trash.
You can’t do this, she explained, 
gathering up the ballerina,
the homemade Raggedy Ann,
the Gigi she’d saved her allowance to buy.
Then she found the old walking doll
(the fine gold hair, white plastic shoes,
two little front teeth, blue eyes that opened and closed),
and lost all composure.
She’s been with me since I was three, she screamed,
You can’t do this.

A few years later,
having read some Russell and Hume,

she took a hammer to the walking doll.
It was just a pile of peachy plastic,
some old rubber bands,
and a weighted mechanism
to open and close the eyes.

Dolls can’t talk.
Tinkerbell is dead.
The angels are, at the very least,
in a torporous state, like winter toads.
Pan, if he ever was, has fled.

Continents are sliding under,
melting down, bubbling up.

The fairies disappeared
into the zone of subduction.

No two snowflakes are alike.

The gods that form them are as different
as the shapes we make are not the same.

Many groups of hominids went extinct.

They’ve slipped through wormholes.
Alternatively, they’re here,
close as our skin,
metamorphosed into yet another layer
of what we don’t want to believe.

We’re more closely related to potatoes
than tuberculosis bacteria is to cholera.

That explains so many faces.

The curvature of spacetime
keeps us from drifting away

and yet
we act is if gravity were real,
as serious as, say, love.

My father saw Santa Claus in his sleigh, with reindeer,
flying above the roofs of Newport, Vermont.

Here, still in Vermont, I can talk, in real time,
to a friend in Nagoya, Japan.

When my son was eight years old,
he saw an angel in the downstairs bathroom.

At this writing, there are seven hundred and five thousand
listings for gravity curvature spacetime on Google.

Jesus turned water into wine.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the incarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion.
Mohammed split the moon.

Tuberculosis bacteria
made my husband’s bladder cancer
go away.

Eventually, the unexplained was everywhere:
she found it in the forests,
under park benches,
tucked between books on library shelves.
Stop it, she screamed,
but it multiplied exponentially.
When she went for her evening walk,
she heard dolls singing madrigals,
saw fairies ducking into the shrubbery.
In the garden, the angels
were stretching their bony wings,
emerging from their long muddy sleep.
And early one morning, she awakened to find
a solemn Neanderthal squatting in her kitchen,
peeling potatoes with a sharp green blade.