SPOTLIGHT: ‘Words in a Night Jar’ by Elizabeth Mercurio

Words in a Night Jar

I pray to the dwindling fire, take my tea with cream & grief.
How cold my cheeks still are.
How round the snow thrush on the back deck.

I remember the sticky-face child, who always took too much jam.

She is still here with me. I broke, then remade her.

The sparrow is here too. Outside the kitchen window,
he visits me with wings dipped sweet in wild air —

Paper Angels Fall from the Sky

In Baltimore the air breathes snow, swirls angels —

Inside, galleries and galleries of Monets and ravished Rubens,                

So many fevered Magdalenes, posed on damask wallpaper.                     

Snow fills turreted windows,

skirts the dirty city

in a swirling gown. The children in warm sweaters     

craft paper angels, foiled gold and silver —                                  

I take a polaroid, glue each smiling face on top.

They glitter their wings — then go

Into Ether

The hour has come for me to sit again.

Who isn’t a dreamer?         There must be a storm & sea air.

The malignity of the sea, upon the beach

A lover gone to the light house.

Remoteness was your home.             Until music came.

It filled & packed your days,            as poetry does mine.

It drives me from disaster.

You have made the deeper mark,     full of veins & beauty, dark beauty.

Remorse turns over & over in the mind.

I wish to see you.

Keep some whiskey for me.

I Love Your Every Shade of Dark

Life has done its worst to you.

You stood for the heart,     the violent heart.

Live it all, shoot it all, you sang. Then sit down

in paradise.           Or die in a gutter, or not.

Maybe loved in a warm house.

The air clean, the window open—   busy with a thousand songs.

Urgent, I write.

This is not a letter to you,  not a note,            

but a word said deep at night over a garden gate

from this world into the next.


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