Two Poems

by Teresa Scollon Issue: Spring 2018

After Perfection                                         


1.
A woman retires, moves to the north,
to a house on a small wild lake. Annoyed
by the free creatures living under her dock,

a mink and her babies, their mess of crayfish shells,
she has them shot as they drowse in their nest.
Where is Dante when you need him,

who’d devise her perfect and deserved hell—
a cement box to live in, which she cleans
and cleans and cleans and cleans, never

recognizing it as hell. To her
the lake is a picture postcard
where nothing stirs and nothing will.

2.
The full moon, round as round can be,
looks down at me through my window.
There will always be murder, it says.

Pity the woman empty of wonder.
She does not know where she is,
pacing her quarters, a Lady MacBeth

scrubbing her floors, scrubbing her hands
of her dark business. But I mourn the lost ones,
the rippling beauty of wild, the she-creature

who brought life into the world
and harmed no one. Let my poem
find the woman in her warm bed,

let her feel its cold steel on her forehead.


The Snapper


In the long green days of summer
my grandfather caught a snapping turtle
whose feet were as big as his hands.
He stowed it in a heavy crock by the door,
lidded with a thick plate and heavy stone,
and went to bed dreaming of soup.
In the morning the crock was empty
under its plate and stone. The turtle
was gone.

For all we know, it’s living still, all
weight and plate and cutting beak,
trudging again the slick bottoms
or lying under the mud in the pond,
snaking its long neck up like a snorkel.
Caught by its relentless nature
and freed also. Think of it encased
in that ceramic tomb. Just another
egg to break out of, maybe. The same
scrabble up slippery sides. The same
imperative. The weight of the lid
on its back, moving backwards
along the carapace, tipping as the turtle
clambers up and out, clattering back
into place over emptiness, while the turtle—
who survived the dinosaurs,
the meteorite and nuclear winter,
my grandfather’s dinner plans,
that long moment when you’re caught
and held by the wicked and the bad,
hope sealed off, when you
are meant to only wait and tremble—
the turtle worked its slow magic:
Move, move, against the heavy dark.

 



Teresa Scollon

 

Teresa Scollon is the author of the poetry collection To Embroider the Ground with Prayer from Wayne State University Press. She is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, alumna and former writer-in-residence at Interlochen Arts Academy, and instructor for Traverse City’s Front Street Writers high school writing program.