by David Koehn
Lay a set of spoons on the table in front of the audience.
Nothing brings back source.
Watch the daughter crawl into the hospital bed
With her now dead mother. The word
On a seven-year-old tongue catches:
Not the ruse of hocus pocus or the slight of hand of presto.
Show the audience the spoon in your left hand,
Bend the spoon held in the right.
The daughter had been waiting bedside for death to arrive –
Which is a kind waiting for her mother, the resident, to depart.
Say the word out loud, abracadabra
Just as she did that day. The room’s encircled a small town
Called Hope Mills in North Carolina.
The eye loves the roots of the tree
Grounded in Aramaic. The ranch
Home, white, with gray shutters, and three street-facing windows,
The largest one set within the frame of the front porch
Lined with small evergreens: the grey lizards, angled and opium-eyed, bask
In the sun and wait for capture.
Millais’ Ophelia drifting on the river
By her left knee look for a purple flower,
Just left of there, a spoon. Hold the spoon up in line with the audience
And shake it. I showed our mother my first magic trick,
Some part of me wanted to be Uri Geller –
To change the world with the power of my mind.
When I bent the spoon, she seemed truly amazed,
Her face lit up with what I assume must have been mock surprise.
No incantation brings her oddly stilted Fur Elise back,
No trick allows us to feel the way we do with the living while they live.
Turn the spoon sideways to show the bend.
David Koehn’s first full-length manuscript, Twine, now available from Bauhan Publishing, won the 2013 May Sarton Poetry Prize. David just released Compendium (Omnidawn Publishing 2017), a collection of Donald Justice’s take on prosody. His second full-length collection, Scatterplot, is due out from Omnidawn Publishing in 2020.