star-splashes the lake,
our boat so small. What is
the part of me that wants to be
capsized? I think I’m living
a great fiction, not quite
Dostoyevsky but maybe
Agatha Christie. But not
the murderous second-cousin
or the body in the library.
I’m one of the guests at the endless,
damasked table, the one who
doesn’t quite know what to do
with the third fork. The one who speaks
little, fingers her pearls and steals
glances at you across the dowager’s bosom
as lightning throws its wickedness
into the room. After dinner we all traipse
onto the lawn as the clouds fizzle.
I would like to steal
the champagne flutes from that table,
arrange them along the rim
of my bathtub, as a grand
candelabra spills its ghostly
shadows on the tile floor.
Well, not champagne flutes
with their insistent lines,
but wine goblets, Cabernet
swishing along the sides.
Or very still like a lake
after rain. Perhaps the candelabra
is too Transylvanian, so maybe
a Chianti bottle with a snubbed candle,
a hundred years of wax clinging
like old dreams to the wicker basket
while I settle into the warm music
of bath bubbles, you at the other end,
our knees bobbing like life buoys,
our boat so small.
—from Rattle #25, Summer 2006
Elizabeth Volpe: “I can hear the hum from the highway as I write, and I think about the man I saw yesterday driving with a thick book propped open on the steering wheel, his eyes locked on the page each time I passed. The car seemed to be driving itself somewhere—home to a wife that forbade reading or to chattering children holding out Dr. Seuss or Captain Underpants, the TV on in the background and the cat mewing against his ankles. I wanted to honk or alert the police, but more than that I wanted to be in his rusty Impala or reading over his shoulder, risking this life with him for words, just for words.”