The kitchen clock hands sling round and round.
The woman looks out the window and twice asks the green greening around the house what it means
by beginning to turn red, orange, ochre.
Under the storm’s mumble, glasses in the cabinet rattle until the thunder quiets down.
Atoms and gravity stitched into an orb, Earth’s axis a string of present and past dimensions,
timing all relative—times she cannot take for granted, his voice, his hands.
Sometimes the clock is right, sometimes trees and newspaper obituaries have it right.
Dateline: the edge in physics has a name, dark matter about which nothing is known, 90 percent
of what surrounds us.
Why we are here at all begins as a flash in a cosmic cloud.
Yesterday a flash in the backyard and now thunder in a kitchen
painted orange under a tongue of fluorescence.
She keeps fading in and out, meandering in a stream
unsure which way she wants to go or how long she will stay—one microsecond, one hour, one eon.
The gas flares blue, the kettle boils, the tea steeps.
The Insects Are Mating
But she doesn’t see at first, eight years old and on summer vacation in Ohio at her aunt’s house amid rolling hills all green, with her mother. She reads a book on the porch while her mother and her aunt are in the kitchen: knights, a castle. Later she goes to look at the sweet peas in the garden because they’re special and she’s never seen them except in a bunch on her aunt’s kitchen table, and they’re pale and fragrant. Then she walks past the rows of flowers right up to the unmown field beyond, the short grass of the lawn stops suddenly and the grass and some yellow daisies and things she doesn’t know the names of are almost as high as she is. She wades into it, like she used to go on walks with her father. Who isn’t here. There’s some buzzing around her, the thick summer heat carries the smells of hay or something heavy and live. She stands alone amid the daisies and fuzzy caterpillar-like grasses and some shrubs with thin branches and round leaves and when she looks suddenly she sees black spots everywhere. Bugs. Bugs everywhere on the plants, on the shrubs, on all the leaves and on all the grasses. She stands still, barely breathing. They aren’t moving much. It is like she stood when he said, Do you have to go pee-pee and even when she said no, he said, I think I should check your underpants, so she stood very still. Like this. Like now surrounded by bugs. Carefully, she bends slightly to look more closely at a branch and they are moving, they were attached at their long things behind their wings, attached together, two and two, what are they doing? and she smacks the leaf and the bugs fall and disappear down by her feet in the bunched grass and she smacks another leaf and a branch, and the bugs fall, and another branch, there are hundreds, they are naked and she takes her two hands and hits the bushes all around her.
Anna M. Warrock’s book From the Other Room won the annual Slate Roof Press Chapbook Award. Her work has appeared in The Harvard Review, The Madison Review, The Sun, Phoebe, and other journals. She has two previous chapbooks, Horizon and Smoke and Stone, and was anthologized in Kiss Me Goodnight, writing by women who were girls when their mothers died. She has been awarded project and fellowship arts council grants, and held seminars on grief and poetry.