“Ace of Pentacles” by Roxanna Bennett
What is before you: Party dresses twisting on thin wire hangers. Japanese river stones painted with runes. Pill bottle shaking with baby teeth and a polished brown squirrel skull my brother found in a potter’s field. Lapis lazuli pendant. Curl of grey hair folded in a comic strip. What is behind you: 999 Carlaw Street. $825/month. One and a half bedrooms and a bathroom in the hall. Second floor veranda, wood warped with wet weight. Where lost I laid a planetary spread. Balconies thick with tomato vines, laundry lines, dishwater sunlight. Wan ruin of June. Garden of cracked clay pots, holes punched in the bottom for rain to run out. Purple carrots, sugar snap peas, tiny cherry tomatoes. Soil trundled home in a child’s red wagon. Maybe birdsong but smoke detectors, sirens, car alarms. How to make him believe leaving was his own idea. How to defend. After. Wrapping the cards in a torn pillowcase, throwing potential in the trash. And how the garden died wholesale after being transplanted to the suburbs.
What comes next: What is before you: Fear of travelling. I must leave this place. The hospital without memory. Woe from whom we woke. No one open all morning. Do not think of the future’s great formula of art. Where caged, a bride is a burden to god. Fear of speaking to strange men. For miles blue lights, empty air. Blue lights, empty windows, how many miles of answers. Who will protect me from voices. To die is to leave the ugliness of summer. Sometimes I dream a warm room filled with words, intention. I sit on the bed in ragged silk. Dark hours rise, one love bird sings at sunset. Cover me with leaves. Blue lights. Empty. Stars. A body and the quiet trees hurt. To assume love where none exists is a weighty object. Alone in a hospital bed. But you return with your lover and I have grieved ever since. Pressed flowers bound together.
What is behind you: Fear seeps under the door like gasoline fumes from that long hot summer up five flights of stairs, straps from the backpack full of food bank cans cutting my shoulders, skin slick with sweat. Weeping in the bathtub, sluicing cold water over my swollen belly. Fear for a child to be out and better than this empty apartment, sleeping bag on the floor and a five inch black and white TV from the alley outside the liquor store. Collect call once a week from a piss stinking phone booth. Silence where congratulations should have been. It is the last day. I have nowhere to go. No one to see. No one comes here. No one comes back.
What comes next:
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Roxanna Bennett’s Artist Statement: Roxanna Bennett is the author of The Uncertainty Principle: Poems (Tightrope Books, 2014) and senior editor for Matrix Magazine. Her work has appeared in Slice Magazine, The Dalhousie Review, Existere, Arc, Vallum, CV2, Cosmonauts Avenue, Qwerty, carte blanche, and many other publications. She is a bisexual writer living with multiple disabilities in Ontario, Canada.