October 3, 2012

Keith Sanders

CALAMITY

settled into her graffiti-covered desk
her face low like a sunflower
hanging heavy
below a bright sunlit moon
of midnight. Out of her red head
came the sound like the sound
a marble makes
rolling round & round & round
inside an empty coffee can. Calamity

was so full of strange. With a green
felt-tipped pen, she wrote being ALONE
isn’t the same as BEING LONELY
on her arm
in Algebra. In English she wrote she had felt
like a spindly bonsai
that day last summer
when she sat on the back porch
& patiently counted the yard’s
yellow stubble. For each dull blade
Calamity’d place on the railing
a small oval pebble, the same kind

of pebble
her stepfather said saved men
from dying of thirst in deserts. “They’d place them
in their mouths—” & then
with his calloused hands
“—like this.” Calamity had closed her mouth

instead. Later
in Geography
Calamity learned she lived in a desert
& her stepfather was dying
of thirst.

from Rattle #23, Summer 2005