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Individual Voices / Natural Forms

Winter, 2006

Brendan Constantine

The Errata of Prophecy

The smile your father saw in the wallpaper
had nothing to do with your mother.
There were dozens of faces in the flowers
if he'd taken the time to look. Many of them
were weeping, buckets of wisteria. Still
he was right to ask for her hand. The scorched
curtain that sent him away seven years later,
however, was right on the money. It did mean
Take the children. She'd have burned you
in her sleep, as well.

Your grandfather would be alive today
if he hadn't trusted the gulls. They were lost
when they passed over his ship, nowhere near
land. Your grandmother's vision that night,
the ship's cat soaking wet at the foot
of her bed, well that was a kind of grace
that seldom comes to anyone. It's only
in the country now, wild places. The world is
too well vetted. We are proofed to the comma
of an eyebrow.

Indeed, a breath was omitted from this evening
in error. Put it back. It comes when you step
from the shower. You need a moment to notice
the mirror, the veins where the moisture has run,
formed a word beneath your reflection. Take
the first action it calls to mind and go to bed. Ignore
the patterns in the ceiling. They aren't ready
to remind you of anything.