Today's poem is by Mira Rosenthal
Mysticism in the Dark
As children we were warned not to whistle at night for fear of evil spirits.
Dangerous animals became even more
sinister and uncanny in the dark.
A snake was never called by its name at night because it would hear.
It was called a string.
A beetle the size of a child's fist was never pointed out to have pinchers.
It was called a button.
A spider in the web of its life didn't have poison secreted away
nor the sticky means with which to entrap.
It was purely called an apple hanging on a branch.
A black bat wasn't fast enough to swoop into anyone's hair, get tangled there.
It was called a paper snowflake.
It was called a falling leaf.
A lizard bent around a branch
was a headband you wear to keep hair out of your face.
A cricket was simply a clothespin.
The bigger animals were nothing more than clothing tossed out.
A bear was a worn-through winter jacket.
A fox, a scarf rubbed down to beaded threads.
And that praying mantis stuck up against the wall,
only a necklace to adorn your thin collarbones.
A scorpion is merely the bent latch from a window.
A silverfish is just a drop of coffee.
Two cockroaches paused on cement,
plainly a pair of sunglasses dropped and forgotten in the hustle of the day.
A line of ants, straight stitches on the hem of the tablecloth
at which you'll sit in the morning.
And what is that roll of toilet paper doing
hooting from the ridge of the roof?
And why is the lamp shade creeping stealthily through the courtyard
and hopping up on the rim of the open garbage can?
And how is that small water bottle inching slowly forward,
leaving its saliva, a trail of where it has been
pointing to where it is going?
And who scattered those twenty plump babies' shoes under the bush
and what makes them chirp and dance around
like popcorn in the fryer?
They seem to be looking for something so small
they can't find it, pecking as they are with their blunt toes.
A house is not a house and you are not inside the house.
You are not a body lying in bed
but a bench for something higher to sit down on.
If only you could move your wooden legs and stand up,
everything would be revealed in an instant.
Copyright © 2011 Mira Rosenthal All rights reserved
from The Local World
The Kent State University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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