Fall 2010, Volume 9

Poetry by Margaret Walther

The House of Dares

the town finally bulldozed the place—

that old house that sucked us in
like sheep to slaughter—
wanted warm bodies to fill its guts, needed our crisp young
atoms to fuel its beckoning vacuum

            I dare you—ooh, watch out for the black widow spiders—

doors slanting open, come in
sagging walls, windows boarded up
holes in the living room floor gaped, hypnotic magnets
beguiling grin of stairs

            to climb up to the attic, to walk on rafters

what a delicious ordeal—
poking around in those ruins
hugging planks, staring down at kids beneath
nobody to bother us now, the owners—shhhhh—in the ground—

            to crawl over the pipes, to go down to the basement

we couldn’t see in that tomb below
kept bumping into screams
punctuated by breath on our shoulders, as darkness
penciled us into its yawning notebook

            watch out for the rats, ha, ha, ha—

like little cars, we drove through the house
up hills, over rocks, blattering our childish horns in delight—
had no idea—or did we—
that ramshackle place was kin to us—

were all ruins in the making


Take Spoons, for Example

More and more, I want simple things.  Take spoons, for example.  Strange how attached we can become to certain types of silverware.  I no longer want anything hard or clunky.  No wheat incisions, no ornately carved roses.  Give me a spoon, light, austere, that can slip into my hand and up to my mouth with ease.  An unambiguous spoon that says, I’m here to be used.   

I want to eat from the tines of an unadorned fork.  I don’t fancy a mausoleum knife.  Nor a bowl that announces itself as decorated coffin.  Give me a plate without a lot of artifice, maybe a shade of milk or cream.  It could have a little trim, like the rickrack put on dresses years ago.  Hand me a cast iron frying pan.  A stone for biscuits. 

And angels.  I don’t want any lacy angels now.  This year I turn sixty.  Give me an angel with jersey wings.  Or cotton flannel.  A solid angel, named Gertie or Mabel.  With a soft belly.  Let me lie in grass whose roots sing hosanna to the cellar.  Near black slate path, its Spartan caw.  A few trees, with open windows. 















BIO: Margaret Walther is a retired librarian from the Denver metro area and a past president of Columbine Poets, an organization to promote poetry in Colorado. She has been a guest editor for Buffalo Bones, and has poems published or forthcoming in many journals, including Connecticut Review, anderbo.com, Ghoti, Quarterly West, Naugatuck River Review, Chickenpinata, Willow Review, Counterexample Poetics and Nimrod. She won the Many Mountains Moving 2009 Poetry Contest.