Erica Dawson
Brown Recluse
from the basement

Talking in bed ought to be easiest
Philip Larkin

But it’s talking to yourself—inside, as cars
Pass by, high beams like April lightning, mist
On your slat windows bending beams to bars
Broken—and only you, no accompanist
But the fiddleback over a game of whist,
Bid whist, big joker up. You’re the champion
Trickster, playing all the roles. The skeleton

Of a spider’s web, in fragile strands, breaks, spun
By the roving fan, picking up carrion
Crickets, cat-mangled flies that seemed to twist
Into hysterics when the light bulb hissed
Itself to death. The glass bruises. The char’s
Spreading. It’s black. And, damn it, you do exist
Beneath the ceiling’s darkened stucco stars,

Or sea anemone, or coral reef
In an inverted ocean where the sun
Would pierce your body or the crumpled sheaf
Of dog-pissed papers, berber threads. There’s none
Unless you see it, say it, Darlin’ Hon.
You lie as if dead-starfish fucked, and kissed,
Legs spread, arms out. You’re your clandestine tryst

Ménage à un. You write yourself a list
On Post-it notes rustling in one tightened fist
Then tossed aside. You’re subterranean
In your own words. You’re Machiavellian.
You’re fine, big-voiced and mum, verbose and brief.
Rain swells in flooded corners, stains near one
Sole on its side with a clinging maple leaf.


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