Julie Marie Wade
Décima: November 8, 2016
How the weather channel describes a particularly devastating storm;
Reminiscent of decimals, which we know are preceded by wholes and
followed by fragments; Also, a Roman goddess of Fate; Also, a poetic
form in which one four-line stanza introduces four, ten-line stanzas
Here is the beach by early light, here the gulls dragging
the sea’s dark garnish across the plate of sand. Every surface
smooth as finger-tips now, mirrored, then smudged, then
picked clean again by crows. The stray voices commingling:
My cuticles have been giving me fits! and Did you say vendors
also have to pay to be part of the showcase? Then, this surprise
of vultures: their brown wings pulled tight as curtains, their
talons wet at the water-line. How they hunch together like monks
in common prayer. Shyly, and from some distance, I admire them,
their willingness to wait and wait for the rotted thing they want.
At lunchtime, messages blinker in my inbox. We want your
feedback!, Quick survey to help us serve you better!, and Sanou Bello’s
missive marked as spam: Dear friend, I hope you are fine over there in
your country. How this greeting strangely warms me, makes me
want to inquire: Is it Bello, like “bellow”—a scream carried on the wind—
or “bay-yo”—a handsome man? Instead, I water the plants on the
windowsill, one moody orchid, three good-spirited ferns, and a
sober cactus. We still have not decided where to keep the beloved cat’s ashes, moved so often now, they seem to be everywhere. Later, I type and then delete: Dear Sanou, I cannot say if I am fine until tomorrow.
Before Chinese takeout on TV trays, we lay supine and practice being
dead. The teacher instructs us to spread our limbs wide: Nevermind the sand’s small upheavals! To no good end, I picture castles made all day by children, their pails primary blue and red; then, how the tide came in, flooding their moats, drowning their turrets, and how, just now, we flattened the last of their enterprise. Breathe. We are playing dead but not holding our breath. When will the world ever make sense? Stars flicker like unread messages: whole galaxy pending in blind carbon copy. On each of my ten antsy fingers, the moons start to rise. What a stupid question that was: Of course everyone pays to be part of the showcase!
Sleep comes hurricane-rough. In the wind, I hear my own screams. Then, the world turns quiet, and I’m strolling toward Grandmother’s house. Even her chimney puffs, storybook-style. In the kitchen, I find her as she always was, stoic at the sink, washing dishes. Grandma smiles, insists I wait right there. When she died, I asked my parents if she left me something, perhaps her painted shells. Nothing, they said. Now Grandma returns with a German shepherd, straining against the leash. I never took him out for a walk. I regret that now, but I’ve been saving him, all these years, for you. Then—I promise this is true—she tells me his name is Anger as she ties the taut loop of leather at my wrist.
Julie Marie Wade is the author of eight collections of poetry and prose. She teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University and reviews regularly for Lambda Literary Review and The Rumpus.