by Megan Mealor
A Sanguine Sonnet
He spies the symmetrical anchorite
in the fashionable flophouse through
the tattered botanic jalousie, watches
her heedful hands smooth dollar-discount
acrylics across the clunky wooden angles
of throwaway prehistoric clocks, plastic
suncatchers shaped like dragonflies,
castles in clouds, dysphoric flowers
flashing in the pale astronomy.
She notices his forlorn armor,
how it surges inside moonbeams.
She lights her stalks of candied wax,
ties on misgivings like a restive apron.
His studied subtleties are explicit
in the gaunt waning hour, his
jittering palette pulverizing
under the mercury vapor.
This is how it all begins, beneath
a spill of hemic shadows.
It is sunless where I am,
nefarious and stuffed with pessimistic preachers.
Jerusha, the half-Korean depressive
with the hacked-off hair and ghostly presence,
follows me with vacant almond eyes
as I unpolish the freezing linoleum
with convulsive footsteps.
I am thinking and thinking,
Who are they to keep me imprisoned
in this berserk purgatory?
I can speak to spirits without
resorting to Ouija boards,
dance like Cyd Charisse’s shadow,
glimmer in the blue funk of it all.
And there are other gifts, too, ones
I can’t open in the proximity of so many judges:
astral projection, of course,
when my blueprints become too blurred;
reading the rationalizations of strangers,
pinning their scrutiny up in my heart
beside the condolences of angels.
Again I think, Who are they,
who do they think I am?
I am no one’s jester!
I am no one’s millstone
Yet I am forced to pace
this beaming vinyl
with my cloak-and-dagger piety,
shrouded in a lewd gown open
all the way down the back
and ward-issued socks that I get to keep
as tokens, memorials, admonitions.
The passionless nurses and indifferent aides
don’t seem to notice that five hours
in this rotting realm is akin to
five days without ozone,
that coloring pictures of elephants
with stocky crayons won’t erase
comas or afflictions or pathos.
It won’t explain away the sources
of our languidness, tell us why
we feel useless beneath the serenity of trees.
Jerusha watches me, lusterless,
and through the shredded veil
I can hear the icicles shuddering
inside her wooden woebegone walls.