M. E. Silverman
a companion poem for Amy Lowell’s “Bath”
Every day is a loop. The day begins stale and puffed with pollution. The sickly smell of skunk cabbage flares the air. Rain pellets the panes like radio static. The rain says please stay please stay. I tuck the green covers tighter and roll onto my side. Every day is rain even when there is none.
Yesterday, I watched turkey vultures in my backyard. They tossed around something small. One settled in the old oak like a lookout. Their hiss sounded like sizzling bacon. Maybe it was directed toward me as I lay wrapped in Egyptian cotton. Maybe it will rain and scare them away?
Soon cars will blip and blur by my window. The morning commute calls them forward, like the promise of thunder. When enough light paints streaks, I will watch the cars and trucks flow down the street. I can count them like sheep. Like yesterday. Like tomorrow. Every day is a loop. I begin again.
Sarah & the 2000 Doors
ending on a line from Alexandra Teague’s “Blueprint”
This is a true story. In the Santa Clara Valley, Sarah Winchester built the Mystery House. She designed the 7-story house with random abandon by consulting with her Ouija board before building. Sarah wanted to contain the spirits, to confuse the ghosts that tethered to her like balloons. If anyone asked, it was to seal away the spirits who sought vengeance for their rifle-related deaths. No one asked. She lived alone. Servants came and went. Her house was haunted. Yet, she loved how it hid secrets within the 300 rooms, including 13 bathrooms, 2 ballrooms (even though she did not dance), 47 fireplaces, 6 kitchens (even though she did not cook), 3 elevators, and 2000 doors. Some doors were Nowhere-Doors like forgotten relative portraits. Some doors were Everywhere-Doors like an invitation or a sea breeze. Other doors coveted the shadows of corners. Sometimes the doors revealed a hallway or a hidden passage or just empty space or more wall. The doors constantly creaked. The doors always ached. The 2000 doors wanted to be opened. The 2000 doors needed to be heard. They moaned in the lost language of wood. They whispered and buzzed behind her ears. Every door spoke to Sarah until she was too old to build more rooms. She could no longer trap her ghosts with so many doors and walls around every emptiness.
Stable in the Garage
“I’ve heard of making a garage out of a stable,” Tom was saying to Gatsby, “but I’m
the first man who ever made a stable out of a garage.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
One day last Fall, when the chill first began to roll in, my father spent all month building a garage in his stable. Of course, he insisted on drawing the plans. The plans were discarded. Daily, we shrugged, amused. We watched my father wear his own yellow hard hat with the store sticker on the back. He strutted around in a designer red vest. In his toolbelt, he carried two new hammers, one on each side. Every morning, three trucks arrived. The trucks had a silver logo of a jackhammer with their name below: Man-Bro Co. We watched as men in jeans emptied out of the trucks like circus clowns. They talked and shouted and pointed at different pieces with such determination. Other trucks kept coming with supplies. Another had custom cut rolls and imported red wood. All day, machines whirled and blades buzzed. They installed thick windows and big doors. Moisture sealing siding wrapped the enclosure like a well-fit suit. My father stayed center stage, inspecting. He was so proud; he handed out bonuses and cheap cigars. At last, the workers swarmed away. There it stood. The newly rustic garage. The best thing he owned. His grand achievement. The next day, my father wrinkled his brow the way he imagined lion-tamers do. My father knew it was time to buy a car. A Pegaso Z-102 or maybe a Mustang Boss. Something rare. Top quality. But first, he needed a garage.
M. E. Silverman, author of The Floating Door (Glass Lyre Press, 2019 Review of Floating Door), co-editor of Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish-American Poetry (2013), co-editor of 101 Jewish Poems for the Third Millennium (2021), and co-editor of forthcoming anthology called New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust (2022)