Two Poems by Meg Tuite

the spider plant died

I blame my nightgown for holding me hostage
This desire to hole up and plot out going nowhere
is in the blood

The apartment moans with lack of mom’s movement.
I have collected twelve thoughts today
Yesterday I had ten

If the couch most resembles me of any sibling
in our family snapshots, then I wonder if
I can move this apartment into another city?

Laundry baskets smoke with unread mail
wait for weather to change
The sun curdles in from hidden cracks
no matter how many blankets
are push-pinned to the windowpanes

When clouds swagger by
and humans are vacant
unable to eye my eyes,

I dump garbage bags hefty
with empty beer bottles
into one of the neighbor’s cans,
Torpedo IPAs to be exact
I don’t like clutter in my can
Thought number thirteen

Can one become a boneless receptacle
of reek and collapse?
That is a question, not a thought
Tomorrow I will consider it

The smell of Tandoori chicken seeps in through the walls
A vision of Jiffy pop gnaws on me

Mom bought one of those can openers that attaches to the wall
I open the fridge. Realign the beers in a pyramid like bowling pins
One has to go

I knock a pin from the back, grab and slip it under the lip
of the opener. A soft vapor dances from its open mouth

The couch wraps around me. The room tilts. Two episodes of Columbo
I get up to pee. Head for the refrigerator

I hear voices on the street
What’s with all the fucking flies?
It’s someone’s cat. Disgusting
Where’s that Mexican place? I know it’s around here
Shit. I think it’s a goddamn rat

I wish they would go like the old pocket in my head
I wish it would rain
Those were the calmest days when mom would
make popcorn and we’d watch The Avengers together

I haven’t seen my sisters since mom died
Thought number three today
The sisters creep into every list
like the sun through the floorboards
doesn’t penetrate concrete.

I Swallow, I Speak

Trapped within two existences,
I swallow, I speak. Solitude bends itself beneath
the weight of obligation; someone I don’t want to know.
I have photographs that capture a look of adventure,
mystery on my face. I have evidence that layers lurk
inside me.

I study party faces to see if mine can encapsulate
their animation. I laugh as large as chocolate,
gag on the quiet side of me that shakes her head,
says I’m ridiculous. I go to dances, listen to the splash of girls
break waves of water over my silence.

I see mom with a book on a couch.
I want to lay beneath her with my head against my palm,
read about some girl who lives in a city far, far away.
I take that girl’s hand in mine as we walk
through the streets of Calcutta. When she turns
to me, we smile. She is a labyrinth like the city.
She lets consciousness splash in a creek. She is a lit room
without the people.

Calcutta has over fourteen million people.
We don’t hear them when we are together.
The girl melts with me into heavy air
that cannot pollute our connection. We congest
within a surplus of people that ignore us.
Her hunger is a cauldron of mine
I have been stirring for way too long. We are overpopulated
by the bruised repercussions of my life
as I hear over and over
I need to make friends,
smile more, sweep through the lack of myself.

Memory is a soft silhouette, a whisper so weak.
Light beckons it, calls it,
the room I read in pulses.
Trapped within two existences,
I swallow, I speak.

Meg Tuite’s writing has appeared in numerous journals. She is author of two short story collections, Bound By Blue (2013) Sententia Books and Domestic Apparition (2011) San Francisco Bay Press, and three chapbooks. The latest is Her Skin is a Costume (2013) Red Bird Chapbooks. She teaches at the Santa Fe Community College. She maintains a blog here.