Can't Get Me
I'm going to need to get under here
under this leaf here
under this leaf and under the wood chip beneath it
and perhaps under the rock beneath that
I'm going to need to get under that rock
and also under the spider fat and fleshy, too big
to notice me. Hunting spider. Spider, watch out
for stinging wasps, they will sting you and put their eggs
into you. I'm going to need
to get under this tree smelling of tree-thought.
I'm going to need to get under the tree-thought which thinks
go, leaf. Go, leaf. Go, red leaf. Go, brown.
Later it will think
clink clink click click sigh
in the frozen wind. I am going to need to get under
this little snake, this curl of poison sleeping under
this thinking tree. I am going to need to get under
this curl of poison which dreams of frogs the size
of stars reflected in the pond. I am going
to need to get under these ants, these ants too busy rushing
around to notice, these ants carrying
the carcass of my brother who did not get out of
the cold, I am going to need to get under this. All
10:07 am was pushed overboard.
(It washed up some years later in the Orkneys
wrapped in weeds and barnacles,
but recognizable nonetheless
as time to start the scones.)
A memory that no one liked
was tricked into walking the plank-
its pathos lost forever
in the belly of a squid
(he suffers indigestion to this day.)
Bad wisdom got the boot.
We threw over "stand by your man"
and "love conquers all"
as well as something nasty whispered long ago
in a high school locker room.
We got rid of every recipe
for jello salad, tuna salad, and green bean casserole-
even the screams of Mrs. Cartwright,
when we seized her churchwomen's cookbook,
could not break our resolve.
Lastly, we put to sea
all the excess gravity that fell on us
from the stars, the comets, the moons and such-
all the little sparkling bits
between the deck boards
and under the corners of the chairs.
And so we continued our journey in safety,
and (with the exception of Mrs. Cartwright)
exceeding good cheer.
Try as she might she could not seem to go hungry.
The bats brought her trifles
she could not resist.
Every night they came
dropping their morsels at her feet.
A grape, an olive
Thimbles of wine and honey.
Worldly and tempting enough,
but even more,
their eager little eyes.
How they waited
nuzzling her cheeks
until she bolted it down.
The Long Light
We were going to our jobs that morning
with coffee in Styrofoam cups
with bagel crumbs on our suits,
our radios bright and loud.
I remember watching flocks of geese.
watching leaves the color of traffic cones
play hary-kary with the earth.
Not until the light turned green
did any of us realize
how long we'd waited.
The sun was going down,
and the streetlights flickered up.
But nobody sped through the intersection.
Nobody even honked.
About the author:
Sarah Ruhlen recently moved to Bloomington, Indiana for no apparent reason. Her work has appeared or is upcoming in Slipstream, RHINO, NOO Journal, Monday Night, Thorny Locust, Curbside Review, I-70 Review, Coal City Review, Sow's Ear, Wavelength, Ibbetson Street, Skidrow Penthouse, Circle Magazine, and the Kansas City Star. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize but she's still looking for a job.
© 2011 Word Riot