Rosary by Alinda Wasner
 
Dangling limp from the rearview mirror
The night you parked
Your battered old car
Outside the house of your new lover–
Her window jutting out over the street,
Her brazen balcony!
 
You’d tried to teach me the words
But I couldn’t believe them,
Each bead little more
Than the sly September snowflakes
That caught us off guard that year–
White lies piling up on each other
Until I was snowed under.
 
It’s been decades since I’ve been back here;
 
But today a jackhammer
Pulses in the streets of the old neighborhood,
the sunlight in shards
In the intersections
As if the same old thug has broken day’s window,
run off with whatever he could steal–valuable or not–just for the thrill
Of trying to outwit desperation.
 
And, God!, the cathedral–boarded up and silent,
flying the new,blue flag of secularism:
BANK OWNED it says,
Repossessed–
Like the heart of the wife
Whose husband always forgives her
Tho they both often wish that he wouldn’t–
And over here some dusty old reflections
In the empty shop windows, barely recognizable but still there after a too-long winter.
 
It’s too much, sometimes,these first hard-hearted days of Spring
With its punishments and retributions,
its trip wire still strung across the old pathways–
And would you believe that damn robin
Somewhere in the hedgerow
Crying “love/hate”/”hate/love”–
As if it actually believed
In confession,
In the rains of absolution?
 

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As If the Roaches by Alinda Wasner

lurking on the seam of the refrigerator
door waiting for me to open it
so they can scurry in,
or the big ones in the stove
that shoot out like flames
when you light the burner
or the dead carcasses
in the teapot
in the toaster
or in the baby’s diaper
and the fact that no one
can use the toilet
if someone’s in the shower
because it’s directly over
or the nightly sound of gunfire,
were not enough
but tonight
there’s someone in the alley
dying beneath the bedroom window
and I crawl across the floor
on my belly like a serpent
lift the baby from his
cradle
bring him
down here with me
and try to get my shaking fingers
in the dial
and try to wake my husband
who is impossible
once his head
has hit the pillow
and I’m thinking if I had the money
for a one way ticket
I’d swallow nails
I’d go back home
convince my mother
I’ll divorce the idiot
who thinks he has to live
in the same tenement
as the people
in his parish
and what is there and who
to pray to
in such a situation?
but she’ll tell me
I’ve made my bed
I have to lie in it
and after the police come
I will lie in it.