Two Poems by Jane Rice

Tattoo: A L O N E

He wonders
what a baby dreams.
Enormous word snaps,
snaps back.
Thought shallows,
marks silence.
He can’t run.
Sadness falls
from his eyes,
ages his face.
Can’t run, so desires.
Sadness falls. Out of his eyes,
series of stick-like gestures.
He walks away,
checks his phone.
Glance aims where memory
tells him to aim.
Each word, little rock at the center,
fills. What he might,
might not say.
What he’ll say,
in fact, tomorrow.
Blue rectangle, blue chalk.
I don’t love you
in the pool’s reflection.
Your garden needs birds.
Blue rectangle, blue chalk.
Word POOL written in pink.
Words hammer haywire.
I don’t love you,
never loved you
in the first place.
Puts his phone in his pocket,
not OFF
just away.
Sadness falls from his eyes,
gobbles his face.
Spider the size of a sparrow.
Touched by silence
even laughter lashes. Quiet things.
If he were home, he’d shoot himself a glance
in the mirror. Everything inside him cries.
Words gobble ear,
beat him with branches.
He fights quiet mountain.
Each minute’s slow, slack, delicate hum.
“Run” repeats in three languages.
All of them urgent, thrilling.
Whole sky of things.
Small, tight, far-flung smile.
If only he could splash through
the walls of the sea.
Dreams coil,
night collapses.
Giant magnolias tap moon
into sound, thick kisses.
He lays his phone on his chest,
crushes tears
between his teeth.


There must have been
more farms
along this road.
Can’t say she remembers them.
Children don’t pay attention
to things like that.
Remembers herself barefoot
in a sleeveless, yellow dress.
A ribbon someone tied for her
as if she had come from a children’s party,
had nuzzled snow-drift frosting of a cupcake.
In the painting one notices
the strain in her eyes.
The child is squinting.
She tries to walk,
gingerly lifting one foot.
Feet find glass.
No evidence of glass.
No evidence of anyone
but herself
against warm gray.
And this sea of grass has tides.
This tide of sand heaves grains.
Words fall outward
into air.
Song and memory of song
outward through blue,
through blinding white
piece by piece replaced.

Profile: Jane Rice

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