Cate Marvin


What a mother of a cloud the sky
has dumped on us tonight: a pig fat
with fleece, adrowse in its dankness,
suspended above us like a Zeppelin
fattening on the verge—I lie wet
as stripped flesh, open to the fog
that drapes my window with gauze,
begging for a sleep thick as syrup.
A clock types, a typewriter winds
backwards through old scrolls, humming
its melancholy distraction. Green bottle
languishing in the cabinet, you want
my veins pulled though with wire
of bluish fire: Dreams of parrots
await you, a slumber to outnumber
all waking days awaits you.
The day,
all its doings and dids, unravels its
ill-fitting sweater, as the sweetness
burns through the tongue, sinks past
heart to ignite a tiny fire in the belly’s
cave. It makes a bright hollow. It shuts
the latch of throat, smoothes breath out
so it may pass lips without catching
on gasp. I thrash up from bed, cough
until out my mouth bursts green feathers,
and I cough all the parrots out. I cough
up childhood, its roller-skates, its curled
grubs tucked wet in matted leaves. Now,
another slipper, a finger, a nip, again
a sip of that platonic kiss. Dousing all
my coughs out. Cool sheets cusp my
neck: mother’s hand. I am forgetting him
and I am forgetting them. Wait a long
while before you find my face, wait before
you slap me awake with patient sunlight.

Cate Marvin
NyQuil is forthcoming in POOL.
Poem, copyright © 2005 by Cate Marvin
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse