After/before
Stacey Abbott


I. After the downstairs neighbors started fighting

but before I burned the chicken
I showed you a new tap step:
flap-flap-flap ball change
shuffle ball change
flap-flap.
We practiced it on the kitchen floor
till they forgot about their fight.
Later, full of burnt chicken,
we drew on the air
with our toes.

II. After we threw cake at the cat

but before I sang you my new song
in D flat Asia Minor
we wondered about the wings of things—
our own arms impossibly opaque—
which is probably why we can’t fly,
not even with the strongest engagement
of moola bhanda. Soon,
the moon turned
almost completely to honey
and the mountains were strips of paper,
ripped where I had written lists.

III. After we watered the plants

but before I modeled
my open kimono,
we planned our trip.
We booked
two tickets for Tuva
to listen to
the Genghis Blues
sung
in so many long tones
by just one throat
In the closet
I found shirts to wear
and the ones we’d take with us,
all in the colors
of countries on maps.

 
 

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