Five Poems — Mollie Chandler
Unfolding colors to make lines
And it was working
As they dried in stark sheets
That hadn’t the need for ironing.
Some a sanguine red,
All stained in strawberry jam,
Are clipped up on the line,
Straight as the sides of a house.
So we braced it
And built ourselves in.
The tin-can roof, the same
As the cans we tied to the car
That took us from the church
To here, in time for Monday.
At breakfast we already had
Hot strawberry Jam on our hands
And when you told me it was average
I started adding lemon juice,
And jelly to varnish the bed posts,
And screws to sweeten the coffee.
A pile of gears that isn’t a clock yet,
Rests quite wrecked on our bed,
So we spend the night on your workbench,
Glued in place, paralyzed to sleep.
Sometime we’ll get the car going and back to town.
It seems the engine is just hives and bees,
But up to here with honey to tap and mix
With hot water and rum at dusk
To keep you from dreaming
You’ve got splinters in your bloodstream.
Borrowing the hinges for doors from my elbows,
Uncapping your knees to patch up a leak,
And all the time thinking of cologne for Christmas
Because I have drunk all your aftershave.
But first are the promises we made to the walls,
The assurances we made to the windows.
Until your broken hands come to rest on my waist
And we stand together in ownership.
FOR JEANETTE, MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER
He must have known for some time that she was gone.
His eyes were going, but he saw it through his spectacles.
His child bride was now his child wife, the woman
Who’d grown up wise, and given birth eight times, and made him coffee
And made him wish that he could die before her
Was dying before his eyes. If he could have, he would have
Spat it out. This was not the fountain of youth he’d bargained for.
Her being in the world was more like being in a picture.
Her living had become, most nearly, a fact.
She made her efforts to be conscious, and then once,
One day, she forgot to be, forgot to be watchful
Of her wakefulness, forgot it like her keys on the table,
Like the names and the faces around her at Easter dinner,
Like her dress on its hanger in the back of the closet
When she cried because, for her, it was gone forever,
In all her careful efforts to be conscious, she slipped
Out of it, and into something I hope is more like
That old dress that she was missing, that she loved.
THE WALL CLOCK AND THE POCKET WATCH
It was while I was waiting for you.
I made assumptions about the time,
I didn’t even think to check my watch.
I didn’t think I’d hear such ticking
from a soaking wet clock.
I didn’t think it could be done,
mounting the thing on wet wall paper
on a wall made of insect bodies and damp,
on a wall in a house that is nearly collapsing,
an old house on a bank that is half in the river.
I knew even as it stood all around me it wouldn’t hold,
this place nearly made of the space in its cracks,
tiny spaces too big to ever be mended.
And never did I think to check my watch.
And never did I think to check my watch.
We’re pretending that the lilac doesn’t grow here.
The blue in the branches is sky, is dust,
Is because our girl forgot to dust the gardens.
And the shopkeepers have only idle broomsticks.
They cannot sweep up leaves that are not there,
That do not blow on these insipid breezes.
In the garden plot, where I think it would be best,
Our girl is sewing marble seeds, facing east,
Wondering why she cannot see the sunset.
She’s spit-shining the stalks of plastic flowers.
With pliers she pulls petals back to bloom.
The rain, they say, has not been good this season.
THE BALCONY ORCHARD
The balcony houses a grandfather clock.
It stands on the corner, twelve floors up
There’s a relic on the mantle:
A cup of coffee gone cold,
Never removed from the saucer.
All the things that aren’t known
That should never be known
Are alphabetized on the spice rack,
But in the back,
Through short corridors
Behind the grandfather clock
There is a summer-swelled,
Old wooden door
And perched just beyond,
By the birds on the high-lines,
Are apricot trees that grow from glass tiles.
So much finer than grandmother’s china,
And the fruit falls clean and juiceless down.
One can see the roots of the trees
The graffiti of arrogant weeds.
No one lives there.
Footprints are ghosts
On a glass orchard floor.
Mollie Chandler is a student at Suffolk University where she studies creative writing and philosophy and works as a writing tutor. After completing her degree in May, she plans to go on to an MFA program and become a teacher. Some of her other work can be found in Sediments Literary-Arts Journal in August 2015 and in the fall 2015 issue of The Critical Pass Review. When she’s not writing or working, she can be found baking or haunting thrift stores in the Greater Boston Area for items to repurpose.