Breath & Shadow

A collection of my poems, some dark, some on the lighter side, some new, some previously published, and some I like to call "Brautigans," after one of my favorite poets. Hope you'll enjoy them!


Author's note

Copyright © 2018 Antoinette McCormick

All rights reserved. This e-book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a review.

4. Wednesday's Revenge (Sestina)

Your voice passes through this photograph
Like a ghost. Whose nimble hands
Fashioned your heart of origami
The paper lion beneath your skin
That monument to distance, to Not-Us
The song sung by a closed window?

You were a candle in a mirror I saw through a window
Smoke and flourish but never a photograph.
Perhaps I dreamed this pastiche mural, this sum of us
But once, in September, we held each other's hands
A promise, sloughed off like second skin,
That day I gave you chocolates wrapped in origami.

If memories weren't Wednesdays, but origami
Or an open window
Malleable as a demon's skin
And nothing like a photograph,
I would unfold you with both hands
And leave only an empty sheet between us

But those folds, those pleats define us,
Not coincidence. See my heart, the origami
Crane, you crushed with both hands.
Night, pouring through the window,
Indelible as the voice of your photograph,
Still leaves boot prints on my skin.

Oh, the scratch of a nib on onion skin
Is the spell I cast to dispel this myth (us)
A forest at the edge of your photograph
A thorny hedge in every sheet of origami
I will close you like a window
Wash my face, my hair, my hands

Of what I threw away with both hands
A skein, stretched tight as skin
Hung across this window
Will capture that last malingering simulacrum-- 'Us'
And drown it in a coffin made of origami
(Oh look, I've spilled my coffee on your photograph).

My hands cannot carry us
My skin is not a sheet for your origami
Now you are an empty window, a ruined photograph.

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