Nobility Cistern We Have Stalwart Friend

Gabrielle Calvocoressi

There were more dark corridors
on this planet than I could fathom.
Everywhere, a dark corridor. In the
houses for sleep and the houses for
healing. In the God houses. In the
skin houses that cooed and bludgeoned
and sometimes both at once. So many
dark places. And always something
coming to find you when you just
wanted some privacy. Even the dinner
plate had its dark corners. So even
my food wasn’t my own. Where
did it come from? The arm and then
darkness and all my chicken casserole
and vegetables gone.

You could get killed for not passing
the salt. You could get killed for not
saying good morning. You could get
every bone in your body broken
because you didn’t bring in the paper,
didn’t keep the woodstove burning,
didn’t get the ball in the basket. No.
It was a joke. I was supposed to be

A good way to know was how they
treated their animals. I lay awake
in my light body and heard the wooden
pointer whistling through the air
until it hobbled the dog. Into my light body:
her light body whimpering. Cowered.
But then licking the forearm. Then running
along the riverbanks beside it.

Sometimes I’d hit the dog too. With the newspaper
rolled tight into a log. Hollow. Hollow drum of her flank.

My head hung with her forehead resting on mine.

Gabrielle Calvocoressi is the author of Apocalyptic Swing and The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart. She teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.