Poems by Maria Williams-Russell
How We Live
War sits across from me in the tub.
He has not said a word, but fountains
spit through his blurred teeth
and that incessant dark grinning
make it impossible to read.
I always retreat, place the damp page
between me and cracks in the porcelain.
Or slip beneath to listen for intruders in the pipes.
We are married many long years now.
He has seen me shiver and pace
and raise a knife against his camouflage.
Some days, it feels he might tire of me
and then I am even more a widow.
Other days, I think he pours my tea.
The Leopard And The Shovel
Say there are two things — a leopard and a shovel.
The leopard is the chaser
while the shovel desperately hops
on its one handle through the old house.
Here there are several outcomes:
The leopard pounces, after a few
rounds up and down the stairs,
to find nothing but iron and wood to rub its teeth on.
Or the shovel turns to face the leopard
in a moment of deep anguish
and drops its heavy head, crushing
the leopard’s skull.
Or maybe, they both get bored and walk away.
What if the shovel is love,
the leopard dreaming?
The leopard with her sleek and eyes can never
really know the shovel,
only that there is reason to chase it.
And the shovel so chased by dreaming
can never do its job of digging.
Perhaps I will set fire to the house and watch them
negotiate among the flames.
"The Leopard and the Shovel" was first published in the chapbook A Love Letter To Say There Is No Love, by FutureCycle Press.