Laura Madeline Wiseman
The lake that was an ocean, the coffee can, backseat’s chrome, hours of sun on road, flooded trees, white nude beneath bark, shimmered. The back of her head silvered-blonde, the back of hers fire-streaked, my kid sister’s big eyes, glinted. The dolls unraveled from sparkly clothes, dark self from bright others, one country’s sunrise from another’s sunset. The painted lines, rhythmic and steady, interstate’s reflectors to cross border, sheen of lake, parting mists, speckled kid at lip who sips, doe who watches, pulsed. The glossy frog hidden under kids’ bed through morning sun and the women who knew us and we never saw again. The aluminum boat streaked across lake, the storm stirring the waters, how I turned the keel into the toss to return by nightfall, almost didn’t, engine churning. The glimmer of water, smooth pebbles, wet sand, sunset waves, stippled dress drenched. The way I hold the light now above our heads to show you a path to walk.
He gave me cups, but I couldn’t drink, spidered with dirt, mended with wood glue. He gave me antique bottles, but I couldn’t recycle. The return machine at the grocery spit them back. The bagboy said, They’re not worth five cents. He gave me a horn carved in ivory, a bell of nickel, doll arms porcelain strong, a flat-sided baby’s bottle, a comb, a bulb. I wanted to tend my hair, light our dark room, nurse imaginary babes in my dreams. Where we walked there was no music from sleighs, no knighted men carrying tokens, no fidelity tests, no truths. I filled the horn with boxed wine for us to share. We sipped, knowing it would splash our breasts with red, slide down our throats, run the lines of our broken hands.
Searching for Sur
It’s on the map. Cross two rivers. Cross all the streets. Pass through the woods. Stop to fill a shell from a spring. Drink the moon. Let feet be bathed in iron. Towel off with terrycloth. Arrive early morning to see foxes, the gamble and float of red tails. Bring a tea candle, a lamp, small orbs of light to roll across the stones and hills, scatter the shadows, usher the elves. Carry emblems inside a pack—toy fairy, toy mermaid, ceramic seal. Count health, thanks, dreams. This is where the rocks overhang, where to walk for miles without car sounds. Here luck by rose, feather, metal heart. Call to brother, uncle, cousin, man. Let him call the old French word for sister, endearment meaning here’s my token, my charm, my hand.
About the author:
Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of over twenty books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her most recent book is Drink (BlazeVOX Books, 2015). She teaches at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her website is here.