Who are you here at the turning?
Set aside your shaggy head,
speckled coat, ragged paws
soaked with blood.
Do you hear my voice
in the clink of spoons?
Light falls through leaves
to the ground. Won’t you stop
for tea, for toast made bright
with glittering marmalade?
Lift your cup. Still
your struggling hands.
He wasn’t a carpenter. He was a lawyer
with a very clean desk. He was a copywriter,
gardener, travel agent. Joseph Joseph, TV cook.
A racing bike equipped him to be a messenger.
He moved to the big city, bought glamorous clothes
and became a stenographer. He wrote his dreams
in his stenographer’s notebook. He fell for
a woman who was a cheat. Shortly thereafter
he met Miss Right. Soon they married.
They’re very happy, and the book of Joseph Joseph
closes. In the night he smells sawdust. He moves
his hands as if planing rough surfaces, sliding
rhythmically till they are smooth. He falls in love
with a hammer so perfect he wants to kiss it.
Under the marriage bed, he keeps a can of nails.
Sometimes he gets up to sweep shavings
from the floor though his wife keeps it perfectly clean.
He’s never warm enough. He hardly remembers
greenfly season, fierce stalks pushing up
out of bulbous tubers. He strums his bicycle,
the wheels like guitars, little bell like a star.
Barbara Daniels’s Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press in 2020. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Lake Effect, Cleaver, Faultline, Small Orange, Meridian, and elsewhere. Barbara Daniels received a 2020 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.