from The Sofa Series

For the sake of absolute balance, on one side
of the walkway a pink bush, on the other, a white.
Her socks match her shirt. On the mantel two candlesticks
push out six inches from either wall.
Everything's like pieces of desert paper
blowing in the wind. The motel disappears,
the road already comes undone, and beer cans litter
what's left of vacancy. On Saturdays there's no room
except the sky. Like a veneer of saranwrap the city
lies across a basin waiting to be rolled up,
taken to a new set of circumstances and spread out
for hoards of people with weapons or without.
Everyone prances like ponies, skitters like lizards.
No wonder her silver shoes, no matter her silver hair.

If the chair doesn't move across polished floors
and tables aren't burning with electric pulse,
if I can't glide in patent shoes over turquoise tile,
why have you brought me here?
What reason for such straight lines,
such an ill-drawn moon?
When the cactus glows at night I'll swim the length
and hold my breath until the edge of the sea.
Once, in between one belief and another, I thought
this town's at the end of all waters.
Nobody lives here who isn't already taking notes.
Across from her at the counter a cowboy reads a script
and she responds with coy laughter.
Nothing happens. We take walks. Suddenly the slide.

Martha Ronk Lifson

read the author's Bio and Working Notes

go to this issue's table of contents