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Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

ISSUE:  Spring 1998
What a dinghy I am! Oarless
and nearly wishing waterfall
for a reason to be careless
come what may. I cannot
worry anymore or say my prayers.
A leaf falls yellow into my lap.
Tulip tree, it is an odd corsage.
I am hardly anyone’s most likely
unless it’s sink or swim.
Another penny tossed up, it might
fit into my loafers but won’t
help me call home. The house
is empty anyway, just an old sheet
and sofa cushions. I made it myself.
I have the rug burns to prove it.
Down on my knees, you’d think
I have religion, scrap of cloth,

holy shroud tucked in my wallet.
It cannot pay the bills or buy a dress
sequined and reckless as the sky,
night where my dolls keep house.
They come with such little brooms
and dustpans, such good intentions.
But what drudgery! They beg
for bedtime stories, white pillows.
I rub their aching backs and whisper
I was a doll once tool I remember
the high shelf, the dust in my hair.
I remember the hands at my throat.
But that’s all done. Now I’m a boat,
a black eye bobbing in the tub.
I know there’s a drain. I know
bubbles can’t conceal everything
that’s wrong with me. I admit
I had to steal that leaf for company:
the ouch! was mine and not the tree.


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