by Mary Crockett Hill
You send me a card
that says you are marrying an alien
next Sunday—a week before Thanksgiving
in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Six.
A spaceship hovers
over a brooding church.
invite you to share with them
the joy of their marriage.
And I have to wonder, is this about turning thirty?
Are you trying to reclaim your menstrual dream:
Hermes on a Harley, rubbing hot thighs—
the drive toward birth tents and underwater voodoo?
True, it was a ride any woman
would envy: you were opened wide
by a messenger, a god—all the while
the engine purred & ripped you
forward into space.
Now you're thirty and something has to happen; it might as well be this.
You stand in a simple tulle dress, small cream shoes like pastries on your feet.
Beside you, your roommate as channeler
for the beloved, elusive IG9, holds your hand
and vows eternities . . .
But what if the roommate
feels no IG9 within her, no moment
of melting, of liquid skoal, no pinball
chime and whirr?
What if that hazy yellow dot
at the horizon / in your periphery / on the table / under the table
is a blemish on your eyeball?
Not a visitation, not a vision, but your eye?
And the sky, quite blue—vacant
of all but a semi-colon cloud—
the hushed sky watches
as no one arrives.
The Fat Cat
If you happen upon an immensely fat cat on the road
don't ask what he's been eating as he just might tell you
his gruesome litany: the gruel and the pot and the old lady too
five birds in a flock and seven girls dancing and the lady with the pink parasol
Red Hottentot Tony Jowls Jerry Flop and on and on until he names you—
and then, friend, you are in the belly of a cat
where no one can reach you without the aid of an ax.
It is the same for the over-age skateboarders outside the Dollar General.
When they call, Hey Cuz . . . Hello? . . . keep walking.
And that stricken man dressed in a monk-frock and lugging
a stuffed duffle bag onto the bus, under no circumstance
strike up a conversation. Yes, there is what seems to be
a toy light saber poking out from the broken zipper of his bag.
Yes, a surge protector. A wooden pan-flute.
A dingy inflatable doll of Dora the Explorer.
Stop looking, just stop looking. Still,
how can we help but love him with our God-bless-the-crazies love
that wants to hold his thin, veined hand and say, let's have some soup.
But soup is not safe, and the monk-wanna-be will soon be
standing below the apartment window with a boom-box
blasting European techno ballads and throwing rocks.
He will phone from the Orange Market down the corner
and say he's strangled two pigeons for dinner.
He will announce that the inside of his mouth
has grown for the occasion a new and muscular husk.
Someone must write a manual for avoiding random horrors.
Someone needs to tell me what to do with these birds.
Mary Crockett Hill is the author of If You Return Home with Food, winner of the Bluestem Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in American Poetry: The Next Generation, Poetry Daily, Boston Review, and Pleiades. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.