In Keyholes

There is an apothecary of neighbors,
who live next door with a fury
of tinctures and wisecracks.
Everybody wants a turn, a chance
to throw insults like stones into
the pool.   Talk behind our backs,
Can do that blindfolded, one arm
tied behind.
  The shovel-ready sunlight
is falling all over window sills,
dusty underneath, piled with last year’s
holiday cards, never mailed.
It curves on the furniture, conversations
peeling-off in layers.   Pearls and high-heels
weigh more than their ideals—
In backyards, there are noises,
jump-rope and dryers will make it
soft and nice.  Rumpled little girls
getting cornered—The homework got left
in a puddle by the bad boy (now older,
now drunk!).   Blackbirds on telephone wires.
New nieces and nephews, protecting
the secrets of infirm marriages, money woes
to broken kitchen tables, by what gets said
that can’t be put back in the bottle.
In the very end, our bodies become a whispering
of doctor’s instruments—Privacy is the fever
that will loom at half-mast, tomorrow.
All the houses congregating to open up
a gateway to our anguish—Earmarked for
the landfill of last week’s trash.
Our interiors deposited and undisclosed.
With our backs turned, this flashy society
of genes and germs, will relish to expose.

Cynthia Atkins is the author of Psyche’s Weathers and the forthcoming collection In The Event of Full Disclosure. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alaska Quarterly ReviewAmerican Letters & CommentaryBOMBDel Sol ReviewFlorida ReviewHarpur PalateThe JournalNorth American Review, Seneca ReviewTampa ReviewValparaiso Review, and Verse Daily, among others. Atkins is a former assistant director for the Poetry Society of America and is currently an assistant professor of English at Virginia Western Community College. She was founder and artistic director of Writers@Jordan House/FAIR, which held reading series and workshops. She will be launching In The Event of Full Disclosure at the Sacramento Poetry Center on July 22, 2013. More info on upcoming readings and events:
*Photo courtesy of Richard.
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