by Paula Bonnell
You showed me where the piranhas are –
mincemouths, separators –
and the alligators –
as food, one goes all of a gulp.
You chose the alligators.
I the piranhas.
Could it matter which prevailed?
Rapacities or refusals, both burp up
jagged insomnia, guilt.
You said it:
Every answer is wrong.
The only respite is alcohol, skimming and flying,
the triumph and forgetfulness of speed.
Soy dinner, vegetable farts.
Driving home through the dark,
we are all together,
not antagonists, not exacting lovers.
We are friends and friends to each other’s friendship.
The headlights are pale horizontals,
the tree trunks pale verticals,
it is all a weaving.
We come to the house in the woods
where the lake is a concentration of silver.
In it, the island and its reflection float,
rare black tulips, up and down;
peace, peace, like the meat in a nut –
reflection, enclosure, sleep.
Author’s note: My sources are my experience and observations; nothing in these poems is borrowed from other people’s work. Reading literature is a writer’s education, its most important lesson being to write in your own way.
When Mark Jarman chose Paula Bonnell’s Airs & Voices & Voices for a Ciardi Prize, she stopped practicing law. Her poems have appeared in APR, The Hudson Review, Rattle and elsewhere, aired on The Writer’s Almanac, and in three collections: Message, her debut, and two chapbooks: Before the Alphabet, and tales retold. http://www.paulabonnell.net