Summer Catalogue

by Lesley Wheeler

Paired knobs prickle down the heavy bureau like nipples.
I have walked through a year’s water, depression’s deeps and shallows.

In the dead woman’s filing cabinet I find a list of dirty Latin words: “ducunt…”
Barefoot, I grate orange peel at the counter, and when I shift my weight
          I crush crumbs into the wooden planks.
The fan shrugs cold shoulders inside its metal cage and shadows intersect upon the walls.

Sex and death, sex and death. This is a deep part.
I breathe and the seas press back at my chest.

Two squirrels hump on a telephone pole, suspended by their claws,
          shredding the sweet pine.
The leaves in the gutters exhale brown heat.
Feathers skitter past the carcass of a cardinal.
A contrail of sweat shines on the bicycle seat.

Wading is slow, although the water shifts like silk.

LESLEY WHEELER’s forthcoming books are the poetry collection The State She’s In, the novel Unbecoming, and the essay collection Poetry’s Possible Worlds; previous poetry books are Radioland and the chapbook Propagation. Her work appears in Ecotone, Beloit Poetry Journal, Crab Orchard Review, and other magazines. Poetry Editor of Shenandoah, she lives in Virginia.