Suppose neglect saves
us and we just let matter
matter. Let the day be
a downturned book, and the moss
shingle the shingles. Lean into being
the last to know, a stranger among
strangers, each counting
on being let down
down the line. If you want a story,
something must go wrong,
fault as clear cut as when you did
that thing, you know, that thing?,
this is a song, the chorus
smudging into each verse
as uncertain as seasons. In May,
we found a nest blown loose and
placed it on the bench, noticing every
once in a while that it dwindled.
The other day, all that was
left was a hoop of grass,
and the memory of setting it
down back then, with such care, even though
it was always empty to us.
From a distance, they’re hard
to tell apart. Take me,
I’m pretending to be that person,
there, and the longer I keep
at it, both of us become
a little less whole. I’m not
inclined to get in a knot about
knock-offs, for example,
because usually close
enough is good enough. Oh,
it’s not fair to the ones who got
there first, but flattery gets you.
I mean, really gets you.
Where was I?
I was saying I have my father’s
shrug, and your indifference. You can
see it in the narrowing of my pupils
and the way these soles wear down
unevenly. Besides, we’ve all chosen
at some point anything but this.
The ice queen serves up ice cream, each breast a perfect scoop. Call her In Case of Emergency, and she’ll make you bluer, fighting kindness with crisis. She cold-shoulders her way through crowds, licking the tip of a finger to take the temperature of a room. The colder than cool girl, she sublimates desire, and before you notice, your longing evaporates like snow backtracking to the clouds. The ice queen is sibylline, sees you coming, if you catch my drift. She’ll make you run, cold-blooded, and hibernates in the name of not letting things get to her. What happened to the others? The last I heard, she froze their assets off. Lithe in lace and crewel work, flashing sequins as if ready for the Ice Capades, she’s zippered-up, says she’s fine where she is, thanks. A cold fish, some whisper she’s frigid, composed as an icicle, inflexible and arrowlike. When you try to take another crack at her, you see she’s already hailed a cab and closed the door, and you’re the one left hanging.
Charmaine Cadeau received her Ph.D. in English from the University at Albany in 2010. She currently resides in North Carolina, and works as an Associate Professor of English at High Point University. Her previous collections include What You Used to Wear and Placeholder. Her artist's book, Skytale, is forthcoming in 2019. She has received the ReLit Award and the Brockman Campbell Award for poetry.