When There is No Room Left for Shame, I Will Finally Unwrap the Mirror

Jessica Fischoff

At first, it’s all politics. Mother milks the gray cow,
Then the spotted,

I speak of death as if I’ve never thrown a hammer across the room
stripped the birch tree, swept the house of spiders,
photographed a sunset, or closed my eyes.

I speak as if I’ve unhinged the trap-door, hid things
in the basement, carved a hole in the wall to deposit my tears,
scrubbed the hand prints clean,

I am greying,

but I’m painting the hallway again, this time a thicker coat,
a darker red, this time my arms tire from lifting the brush

I’m content to breathe this air, to turn these pages
into a manifesto. If we stop pulling out our eyes
before we learn to open them,

a brain is not a map to the kingdom,
polish this theory like a jewel:
I cannot condition my senses to learn
the language of blank space.

In the morning, there will be flowers on the porch,
variegated bouquets wrapped in tissue like a blanket,
like an infant still milk-stained in the basket,
plucked too early from his mother’s breast.

The more severe the loss, the brighter the arrangement.
I wonder if bees understand the difference between a house with rooms
And a façade, if in their constant quest for sweetness
They feel the staleness in the air. Does it crack their stained-glass wings,

delay the lift off? I want to be the broken pane,
shattered and glinting in the grass, to mar bared feet, draw blood
as wet as the hallway walls emptied like utters.