Someone Saved My Life Tonight
Faded earth-toned photograph
at 45 RPMs preserves the speed of the roll-away
Davenport and infant me balanced on your knees
the speed of Electric Light no different than any other
light an infant or rather an Anna
an Anna Karenina or both, balanced on curled-up knees.
“You are someone,” said or thought
at the last moment. “You exist.” If only
to return the favor. My life at the speed of
avoiding entropy. To live a little more for
Spend not one moment in vain
bored scratching corduroy to the rhythm of
like a washboard.
Who left the bear at the laundromat.
The bear whose overalls were mended.
Who was resurrected. on curled-up knees
The bear whose book was balanced. The girl
who learned cursive from the “This book belongs to.”
An inheritance of shelves.
To say, “You were someone,” iterative,
incantatory. It is an action. It makes.
Even imagined. It makes us safe. A child
at the knee and “Suffer them.” To bear
the speed of time as one who stays
as if you left to force a life to live.
This fever is coming to its crisis. Body prostrate
for much of the day. Why not bite
a bullet or a dowel to weather the throes
of chill and bone torture tactics?
Once there was the upsweep and peignoir,
a-bed for days and weakly lovely. Little
coughs hidden behind pale fingers. Sweetly
to kill with damp silk and atomizers.
But this sick
is ugly—all bone-lock and heave. I will spill it all.
a familiar tune of grand illusion,
Spreading the sheen of a separate era
over now. Over now. There were nights
when I would venture outside, be
washed cool with dark. But this fever
still has things to tell me. Witness
the spinning opera. Carolina blue tulle
and pancake pallor. Mouths, funnels for
sound. Dancing in the round
and real horses. Real horses! Exertion of the flank,
a real war effort. And of course, doomed
romance. A happy ending never
so pretty as two dead lovers
in the proscenium. Ever the infirm
performance—I am infected, you
have me where you want me. Now.
These days, if I want to imagine a rabbit out of a hat,
a lady cut in half, there must needs be
a suspension of numerous things. Remember
the salt invasion of the sea
and how I thought the chimneys were birds,
scare gull and smoke lung?
This is a similar disorientation. I have never once
successfully avoided the dream of a house
with counterfeit rooms.
The elixir is harsh as a throat ache,
though I do love to finger the cork stopper,
brown glass that contains it.
There might be a place yet for us
to breathe the breeze of a wished-at plan.
Otherwise, might we just call it a day, drowse lead-lidded
and long? Stop with the natter. I’ve forgotten how
to hear music. Did you know that? It doesn’t matter.
I need quiet now. I need wait and a clean, dry handkerchief.
Art by Evie Lovett
Trina Burke is the author of three chapbooks–WREAK IDYLL (Dancing Girl Press, 2013), THE BEST DIVORCE (Alice Blue Books, 2012), and GREAT AMERICA (Dancing Girl Press, 2011). Her work has appeared in Beecher’s, The Pedestal, Ellipsis, and The Nashville Review. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Montana and currently lives in Seattle.