Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NEW! Two poems by Nicole Walker

Nicole Walker

Two poems


When the birds started falling from the ceiling 
we knew it was time to close the building. 

The alarms had been going off like smoke detectors.
Fathers in their open-backed gowns, their Pacemakers

twittering reflectors high on the mountain,
flashing warnings to planes and come-hithers

to more foreign, flying aircraft—like condors 
or moons. Those in the infectious wards kept

moving from floor to floor, continents 
drifting toward them. The quarantine signs hung 

around their necks—albatrossed Town Car drivers 
welcoming fliers at the baggage claim at JFK. 

The patients in the burn unit slid into their emissions,
the viruses coating the blistered skin in down. Gooseflesh. 

The cancer patients kept falling in bed with 
the amputees. Watching their sex was like watching 

parrots molt—more slow organization than rhythmic 
wandering.  The mothers in Labor and Delivery were

the ones to notice the air, how heavy it hung. 
They’d been staring at ceilings, pressing tectons closed 

with their thighs. The twigs and straw didn’t bother them. 
They could inhale past that. But it was the mud and the saliva

that began to tuck up in the lungs. Every cough reminded
the mother there was no going back now. Volcanoes permit

more options than this fluorescent system. The door out 
is the door out, not other. Sidewalks are for suburbs, not planets.

We kept pointing the flue out the window, pushing it further 
and further into the stratosphere to find new sky. The babies

in the NICU were turning blue. It didn’t look good but there was
a chance this blue turns Jay and flight becomes a regressed chance for air.  


It is our hospital, this concrete. In the hot
sun it is as sterile and white as linen.

The sidewalk squares, once sutured, now
rupture. The ground underneath is seething,

infected like the little boy who is lying on 
it now (it is not flat enough. We’ll have to bring

the backboard. An old ironing board, my aunt uses
for just these breaking occasions. The ironing can 

wait.)  His fingers dig into the new earth and we 
tell him that it’s rotten but he wants to feel the cool

under his nails and what else can we burden him 
with but stops and pleases. We know there is no

doctor to call. We had called the 911 before and they told us
St. Charles is not on their map. I gave them directions—

Follow the L until you run out of gas. Our street
is the one where the cars don’t run. But it turns night here

before it turns night anywhere else in this city and 
this city has already sold its share of the moon to a drought-

ridden state. Now the streets buckle, the kids tumble,
the ice packs are warm water and the sea under

the street heaves. It wants its antibiotic. We’ve run out
of spackle and glue and sand for mixing. We’ll have

to give it the boy. He seems to want in anyway and even
though he’s  lying flat (The ironing has been waiting days now),

the sores are open. Catching. The ground as it breaks still 
wounds him. We turn him over so he can’t feel a thing. 

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