Blind Girl Dancing
Who scrapes a finger across
the window screen? Who breathes there?
I eat through a maze of mistakes,
mouth askew, chewing an egg that burst
in its broth so it’s nothing but string.
The cat licks its fastidious fists.
No one’s here. No one traced me,
the radio on, a baseball game.
No one waits in the tall grass
or wheeling sky. Laughter, yes,
there’s laughter down the road where
the new people live, blind girl
announced by a sign at my corner.
I must be more watchful. The new
neighbors smoke and sing. They
dance a bit as they rake and paint,
scrub and plant, their laughing like
notes on a xylophone—melody
and explosion. Living is neither
an art nor a craft or is it?
I thrash and gasp like a dog
with a dream. I want to go back
to an ironing board, that just singed
smell of a starched white shirt,
its size and importance, hot cotton
scorching my fingers. I want to laugh
till I cry for the dead, the long absent,
still kneeling dead. The street falls
open, clouds as they build
and move quietly watching.
I drive down side roads
to pines wrinkled like brains.
Years from now, needles
the pines drop today will give up
their slenderness and turn
into dust. My doctor says
it’s a sign when people love
trees, maybe depression,
some deficiency. At the edge
of the grove, trees fell heavily,
some of them bringing
each other down. I have
grasses, emptied saplings
bending like whirligigs
in wind. My hand doesn’t
know what it wants anymore.
Pine cones? A walking stick?
Trees guard hills pocked
with cellar holes. Night starts
flooding the blackjack oaks.
Barbara Daniels’s Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press in 2020. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Lake Effect, Cleaver, Faultline, Small Orange, Meridian, and elsewhere. Barbara Daniels received a 2020 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.