The Spirit of Things
by Nora Studholme
I only meant to write the way I love the world.
First it was a chickadee. I got him wrong initially, mistook his song for easy joy. Later in an essay on the sounds of winter I found him, his self-important chest puffed over a timorous heart. I filled the feeder that afternoon and waited but only finches arrived.
Then it was the taffetaed dresses the irises wore, how the bees unzipped them noisily and staggered, urgent and lusty, into their sweetness.
I wrote the poem with some satisfaction, I must say, and read the reviews with more. By morning the irises were gone, leaving nothing but an earth thick with stillness.
And then there was you.
Your laugh I caught easily, popped it in a jar where it blinked against the glass like fireflies. Your eyes evaded me for pages, but at last I found them when you spoke. They pooled darkly, swallowing their own pupils. I hurried after you with my words, hastening to catch the music as it spilled from your lips like sand.
And now you are an eyeless joyless mouthless silent thing. We bookend the fireplace, notebook on my knee, pen motionless. Your eyes glance flat and blind across my face, asking why but without curiosity.
A chill is starting up my ankles: the floor has been soaked in it. I take the pages and toss them onto the coals. They perch for a moment, waiting, then buckle and cave in their hearts, their words blackening from the inside out. You watch the smoke curl as free as you once were, rising up like dancing.