01 March 2015

If a mouse frightened a pregnant woman

                      by John Skoyles


My grandmother called me to the porch
of our railroad flat which overlooked
backyard plots divided by discarded
window frames, Christmas trees, and
doors on their sides. She pointed
to a snake on the handrail, and a finch
on the post, saying the snake
had hypnotized the bird. Their eyes
were locked. I never paid attention
to those superstitious tales from her native Italy –
if a mouse frightened a pregnant woman
and she grabbed her throat in panic,
a rodent-shaped mark would appear
on the newborn's neck. I was thinking
about this when the bird flew toward
the snake who opened his mouth and swallowed it.


The book dealer collected Borges firsts,
so when that blind writer
lectured nearby, he stood on line
to have them signed.
Stacking each volume on the rostrum
and naming it,
the dealer clicked his pen,
handing it to Borges who said
even he did not own such rare works,
and clicked the pen again.
Too polite to comment, the dealer
walked away, every signal invisible.

From The American Poetry Review, January/February 2015.

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