What She Sees above Us By MAYA JEWELL ZELLER FROM VOL 47.4
You ask me about the sky
because it’s right to want
things, especially if it’s a half-moon
and the slow movement of clouds
and the way trees seem to extend
their branches around birds
and telephone wires
the way you lie on the lawn
and say you’re stretching,
reaching for my legs.
You ask me to lie next to you
and I do, and you say, Mommy, I like
your eyes, I like your face, as if those are things
I put on for you every day, the way
you sometimes say, I like your earrings,
you, who are not yet two, and all
this. I wonder what made you
so curious, was it I
who put questions on your tongue the way
I write colors and letters on paper
you keep in your pockets. You pull
them out in the grocery store,
between announcing lemons and kale.
You shout, blue! You shout, O!
My mother says when I was a girl
they wanted to put a tape recorder
around my neck. I walked around
singing songs, christening rocks. By nine
I kept my world balled up and nameable.
My father delivered pizzas for a while
and would come home when the dawn
just lit my curtains indigo.
I could hear his shoes coming off
in the hallway, their hushed scuff
and fwump like a bird
hitting the water. He hated working
for anyone but himself. Usually
he manned a tow truck or pumped
gasoline up out of the earth, that other sky,
the one that’s always dark and full
of matter going back to matter.
My father’s eyes flash like the horizon
in my sleep. We were never close.
This morning, while I ran the river
trail, the lupines were knee-high, wetting
my legs like little animals. When I felt
that, I wanted to hold you
while you deciphered rain
and shadow. Now I tell you the sky
is the underside of a flower,
just where the stem meets the blue.
MAYA JEWELL ZELLERgrew up in the rural Northwest, living mostly in coastal towns. She now lives in Spokane, where she teaches English at Gonzaga University. Her first book, Rust Fish, was published in 2011 by Lost Horse Press, and subsequent manuscripts have been finalists for the National Poetry Series and Crab Orchard Review/SIU Press.