Break and Enter

We heard a man’s voice ripen
in the summer dark at 2 a.m.

I was too old to be sleeping 
against my mother's back, 
a wall I never understood.

He must have had a key to get in 
the farmhouse buttoned tighter than a shoe.
Mother said she had a gun, told 

the lie so well we heard him descend 
the stairs with a creak so loud we thought 
the wood would sing.

He drove away 
into the carbon night and the following day 
Mother waltzed us to the motel 

at the crest of the hill and I never 
slept with her again 
like girls do before a man breaks in.

The River Offers Up Another Sacrifice

An hour before her death 
she might have stood in a white room 
and gazed at a gardenia in a water glass
or plucked a spray of forsythia 
for her dining room table.

An hour before her death
she might have dusted the plate rails
in her kitchen – or changed the water 
in her dove’s cage and admired the way 
its little head turned askance while she watched.

She might have sat reading Anna Karenina
and bookmarked her place with a letter 
from an old friend she’d been meaning to write. 
She could have fixed herself a salad of grapefruit
and avocado on a bed of lettuce leaves.

She might have brushed her copper hair 
a hundred times while humming 
the Blue Danube waltz. An hour before 
her death she might have thought 
how like diamonds the sun shines
upon the river. 

Her eyes have glazed over in death,
her underside has been torn by rocks.
The medical examiner slides her body
onto a stainless steel slab
but no one comes to claim her.

Intrepid Channeler 

(Previously Published in The Poet's Canvas)

A word went through me,
long and foul, when the sewing machine
stitched my finger into a seam.

Now, when I call some bird a feathered heart
in a lollipop tree, remember,
the words aren’t by me but through me.

If I say the sun is a cut glass inferno
and the smaller moon is rampant with poems,
the perception is through me, not of me.

Precisely when the light is getting good, 
you’ll ride the long way out of town-- 
the only train will streak through my brain

with a man on top, spread-eagled, 
rushing toward a tunnel.

Copyright © 2003 Teresa White