Diagrams of Knots
My eyes are lopsided like used tea bags
and my fingernails are picked into grey, upturned crescents
by the time the sun has set.
I reach into my deep blue sheets to find:
what-ifs like diagrams of knots,
abandoned requests for wisdom I don’t have,
acres of misspoken wit,
an elaborately constructed fantasy
in which things are infinitely vibrant
seem warped as if through a reflection
in a mall fountain—I am haunted.
In the light of this paraphernalia,
I cannot sufficiently engage
in anything of use.
I recline in the yellow lamplight
like a tiger head rug,
conscious that my mouth hangs open,
issuing myself correctives
that turn over every minute like paperwork
boring my eyes into the pictures on the walls
as if I could find some respite in them
and hazily marveling
at how I’ve ever been able to handle
Evening With West Texas and Alzheimer’s
Oma stirs her melted ice cream,
spills a little on her plastic placemat:
Daddy, Lolly, and I got these bowls in Alpine at a tiny store just down the road from our house, during a stormy afternoon, when the sky had turned purple and the trees were trembling. We’d just taken the Thunderbird for a drive around the mountain and we wanted to do something special. Daddy saw these bowls and loved the blue enamel. I put the bag between my feet for the drive home, as the rain was starting, and they began to shine in such a beautiful way, with many different colors, that at first I worried the enamel was made of some sort of poison. I’ve never seen them shine like that again. Daddy said the altitude was so high and the atmosphere so thin that we got more radiation from the sun than other places, that it must have touched the bowls somehow that day.
with shaky hands she picks up the blue bowl from Costco
puts it by the sink
and disappears out the front door
to sweep the driveway for the fourth time that day
a few minutes later, we see her looking up at the dark sky
broom forgotten loosely hanging from her hand
her figure now smaller and shrouded by trees
Vera Caldwell is a sophomore at Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. As well as writing, she plays guitar and composes songs in her band, Nobody’s Daughter. Some of her favorite writers include Mikhail Bulgakov, Stanislaw Lem, Patti Smith, Ocean Vuong, and Fleur Jaeggy.
Art by Sherry Huang