On the pier at Hawley Arm,
their legs hanging over the edge,
the sisters watch a storm
punch its way from the west.
As the bruised clouds spread,
the air, thick and woolen all day,
shifts and trembles. The lake
blackens in response, while gators,
like logs, sink beneath the surface,
ripples vanishing almost instantly.
A pelican on a cypress stump
takes fright, takes flight, its white
feathers a momentary erasure
of the sky’s embittered indigo.
The sisters ought to go in; a storm
like that can bludgeon a body with hail
faster than they can run the quarter-
mile to the house, but they know
what they will find there: broken hearts,
broken hearts, faded magnolias.
A Syllable, a Dove
A dove drops from your mouth,
round and fat at my feet.
I pick it up, my hands a bowl
for its milk-white body;
it trembles but does not flinch
its gaze. Shell-pink beak sings
of what you could never speak:
your wish to find a sky
unspooling with clouds
of loss, of wind crystal time,
of desire that pelts like sleet.
Song complete, the dove lifts
into the air: your voice on wings,
Goodbye falling, a forgotten feather.
In my dream, a bride visits
a blue crystal rotunda, where
an elephant lives in sequins and silks.
If it looks at her with its left eye,
her marriage will be happy,
but only as long as the reach
of wild lemongrass. If it stares
with its right, the couple’s first
thousand days will be as the endless
mangrove, thick with an underscrub
of despair. But should it fix her
squarely with both eyes, blessings
will fall like a shower of silver
rupees on the bride and groom
till they drown, drown—
and the elephant drowns, to bestow such joy.
JC Reilly writes across genres and has received Pushcart and Wigleaf nominations for her work. She lives with three cats, one of whom is a Communist. When she isn’t writing, she plays tennis or works on improving her Italian. Follow her @aishatonu on Twitter or jc.reilly on Instagram.
Photo: Luca Carrà