radio, news — Naomi Buck Palagi



I.
                                                                                                                  Imagine me

sitting at a chipped laminate table,        an old farm house.        Legs slouched open under gray skirt.
                         This morning I wasn’t even sad.                                                Imagine me sitting there as
door to the living room
                                                    bangs shut. Door to the bedroom        bangs shut. Door to the backyard
bangs. Hallway                   door already shut. “When one door closes…”

                                                                                                                             A squeak.

Me looking up tired what now, seeing                   the door to the basement        swing slowly open. Me
sluggish,           watching the door which has stopped moving.
                                                                                                                 Imagine me sitting there
into evening, staring at the door. At the black space behind it. Imagine

             a whippoorwill                calling outside, me         startling.

                                       Some focus   startles back into my eyes.
                                                                     The kitchen very dim.

                                                                                                        Imagine me                  slowly

getting up. Going to the sink, turning on the tap. A metallic odor to the water. Sliding

dirty dishes into the sink as it fills. My back

to the basement door. My back
                                                                              watching.

                                                                                                        Each dish I hand-wash slowly, soft

circles on flat surfaces, slow swirls in dirty mugs.                           Listening.
                                                                                                                                 I put on the kettle,
place a bag of tea in a heavy mug, just washed. Imagine me.

                                                                              Wanting to open a window but not wanting to know if

                                                                              it is sealed shut. My back

                                                                              to the basement door. The kettle hisses and I jump, I

                                                                              turn it off. Pour it steaming into the mug.
                                                                                           The whippoorwill calls.

Hands covering but not touching the mug I                        stare out the window. I have never seen the
whippoorwill. The radio kicks on,            staticy,

                                                                              news about people going back to work but what work,
who won what?
I walk over, turn off the radio.                    Unplug it.
                                                                  Whip-poor-will.
                                                                  Whip-poor-will.

I drink tepid tea, stare out the window.

                                                                              Watch me        as I start to drink the
                                                                              last sip but pour it
                                                                              back from my mouth        into the cup. and now
                                                                              Watch me        turn toward the
                                                                              basement door.        Walk toward it.                Set
                                                                              cup on floor
                                                                              at top of stair.
                                                                                                                It is dark now in the kitchen
                                                                              Darker   in the stairwell.



II.
Pause. Let’s take a breath.    I wasn’t sad this morning, and the news        is not obviously bad. But
polite doors have been closed, a darker door        is opened. Something            moves. At some point,
                                                                 we must learn more,
                                                                                                           and            I’ve left a sip of myself
            at the top of the stair, anticipating return. Imagine
                                                                                                                           me returning.
Imagine
            me gone in the basement for hours, the tea getting colder on the stair. Imagine me gone

for days,

weeks. The tea            evaporating little by little. Months            going by. The tea            to guide me

home dried up and gone. Imagine
                                                                 the whippoorwill calling and me not hearing. And now,

imagine my return.



III.
Imagine it with drawn, haggard lines on my face.

Imagine it with great        voracious        slug-creatures attached to my legs. Me, gathering strength to
pull myself up the final stair. Me       reaching the top, flailing, knocking over the mug,
lurching to the door, all the doors, trying to unlock them and all of them                 stuck shut. More
   creatures
oozing up to the kitchen,        filling it, me        trying to get out the window. The window

stuck. Whippoorwill
                                                                 calling lonely in the distance. Creatures
                                                                 silent.

                                                                 Suck out all the air.
                                                                 Imagine me,


IV.

                           Imagine.

Watch instead an imagine of my return.
Watch an imagine of my return, haggard lines on my face.

Walking up the stair. A storm      in my absence, kitchen window       broken. Shards of glass
glitter in the sink. Dampness       on the sill where rain came in. Imagine me,

                           coming up the stair,      my face worn from travels,      a leaf
tangled in my hair.
                                                                                                                                        One hand curled,
                                                                                                                                  disfigured. A butterfly
                                                                                                                            fluttering above me, blue.

                                                                              Up my back and along my outstretched arm a massive
                           boa snake,

wound loosely around my damaged arm, its head and tongue pointing eagerly forward. Imagine a

jungle
          climbing behind me.

I bend to retrieve the empty mug, I smell          the faint scent of tea. Imagine the boa      flicking its
tongue toward the scent.
                                                    Noise        wells up from the dark basement. A raincrow call.           An
elephant trumpet. I am pushed
                                                    forward now, my face relaxing, my eyes
                                                    bright and focused, the jungle
                                                    filling the room and bursting
                                                    the doors open and suddenly

                                                    we are outside and jungle

                                       keeps coming from the stairwell,    we fill out, we spread        out over
used-up farmland; now watch me        walk. I walk and walk and walk.        I am growing tired
but do not want to stop motion, the motion        is good.         Clouds have gathered.

Clouds gather.
Thunder rumbles in the distance and it is hard                 to distinguish in the rumbling of the earth what
is thunder and what        is great motion of jungle. Rain

             begins to fall.

             I slow, and stop.

             The jungle keeps moving.
             Butterfly takes cover under a leaf,  boa
             slides off my back, my arm, it keeps moving. I hold

             my cup empty to the sky I          tilt my head. I watch

             rain fall toward me
                                                    from such distant heights.


V.

It is not wrong to imagine such things.

VI.

A whippoorwill calls in the growing dusk.


***
Naomi Buck Palagi grew up in the back woods of Kentucky and now lives and works in Northwest Indiana. She has work published in journals such as Spoon River Review, Otoliths, Moria, Eleven Eleven, Blue Fifth Review, BlazeVox and Requited, and has had work featured on WGLT’s Poetry Radio. Additionally, she has two chapbooks, Silver Roof Tantrum (dancing girl press, 2010), and Darkness in the Tent (Dusie Kollectiv 5, 2011).