Fall 2008, Volume 5

Poetry by Jane Andrews

Storm Door

At 3 a.m. too wired for sleep, I watch out the front door,
balancing coffee and Chivas.
The wind drops the coolest part of night
on the mat outside. I am still.

Go on with your sudden silence.
With so much heated talk pressing on this narrow pause,
how much longer can we live apart
in the same house?

I try to see things your way. Opening your purse,
I slide your lipstick over my mouth—
wetness beads and tastes the way
you used to.

Reflected in the storm door,
I rake on your mascara. What if someone looking in,
sees me wearing my wife's face?
I'd have no excuse.

I am unfaithful as rain.
I want to tell you,
as you are constant as the boards and battens of our house,
holding the warmth of this summer day long into night.

The cat has claimed my place by you.
I could take a hammer to my head.
But then you wander out the back door and the screen door slaps the wood.
You reappear in front, to turn past the drive headed for the creek.
I glimpse your white t-shirt. You are a pocketed moon in sock feet.

When you return scented with mud and rusty water,
oak leaves twist your hair. Where did you go without me?
Your shirt is eclipsed with red clay. No one goes in the dark alone.
Who is he?

Should I have followed your path?
Later, when I come to bed—the cat is gone, the window, open.
Nothing stirs this time of night, but I hear the sound of
running, running.


Spontaneous combustion
always takes a person sitting down.
Dr. Bentley, Mrs. Reese—both lived alone,
were found inside their homes
by meter readers or neighbors
who smelled something.

Stick your hand in a hill of wet hay—
the center is warm.
All ignition needs is great heaviness
and the damp engines of decay.

What seems still
is still moving underground.
In Baijiou, unseen,
a seam of coal smoldering beneath
since the Qing emperors, subsides—splintered houses
collapse in a trench of ashes.

Autoarsonists tend to soak
in alcohol. Mrs. Reese liked rum & Coke.
Like Dr. Bentley, she seldom
left her easy chair. A boozy Buddha,
she was a big woman. The theory is
static jumped—housetrained lightning—
from the carpet to her clothes
setting flame to rolls of slack unmoving fat
that blossomed blue with heat.

Numb, she never woke
to find herself on fire, a spirit lamp.
Nothing but the chair was charred. That, and
Mrs. Reese, of course,
whose house slippers were unsinged.

And how long had she been volatile?
How long can I sit before, like Mrs. Reese,
I reach enlightenment?

BIO:  "I have published poetry in Main Street Rag, Pembroke Magazine, and at Flanders Art Gallery. I have also published creative nonfiction, memoir, and short stories. I teach writing workshops through continuing education at Duke University. I am also a freelance editor."