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I’m at home

I am not in the basement of the home
              sucking all the air out
              of the rooms
I am not making lists
But scrolls
I followed up on your plans
I heard you went and got help
So what did I know
I was not helpful in any way
I did not celebrate your recovery
The year of sobriety
When you said, take me to nature
I followed
I followed some footprints in the sand
And I backed away slowly
As you joined the revival
With water arching above water
as every saved head breached the surface





Paris is Liberated

Paris is liberated
              down to the suburbs
              with confetti raining down
Sporadically, the citizens burst into song
or are they just bursting
luminescent soap bubbles and wet stoops

The girls eat ham and cheese religiously
It is their calling
The salt and milk mixing to form wax statues
displayed in the town square

Paris is free
We have the Americans to thank
even a hundred years later
It was their enthusiasm
and their willingness to fight
It has not been forgotten
even in remote farmhouses
In the countryside

How is anything still working?
It never really worked
The rusty water pump
The fragile toilet
The giant heart





My Instructions

Do not be yourself in my house
Be someone else
              The archangel Gabriel descending into a mine shaft
              Beelzebub rattling the floorboards
              A terrible man hiding out in the attic
This is the worst time for renovation
There are no sales!
There is a bit of water
It is wasted on the doomed plants
Why am I not calling Brian?
Why am I flailing?
Why is it terrible to see your child sitting alone on a curb,
drinking a juice box?
Mom comments on the skylights
Are they open
What about the rain
She’s forgotten what’s in a taco
What is a taco
Is it spicy
Is the neighbor referencing Tom Hanks
She assumes everyone is my neighbor
I met your neighbor!
No, that wasn’t him
That was someone else
She’s alone
But she has a great necklace
The families descend
I am a zombie
I send good wishes to Tomaz
To everyone else,
I tighten your tourniquets!
Where is a zombie to go at night?
How is a zombie to properly love her mother?
Her mother is a small deer with a good neck
How is it not to drink the blood of mother?






The first fear is injury
The post-injury relief is grand
I’m writing with my eyes closed
I choked out a speech and the applause still happened
It’s like I should be tap dancing but I’m cleaning the carpet
It’s like I should be cleansing my face but I’m knee-deep in files
Oren and I are connected
It’s stressful –
we wake at the same time
and when he pursues an ant I’m in hot pursuit as well
I pretend to sleep and he pretends to sleep
We are separated by a hallway
So much of everything is an amalgamation
I read about humble people who do great things
They make animal costumes, Adirondack chairs,
laser cut letters
I make things ahead of time for Thanksgiving
My instructions are for everyone are to stay alive
until I have the next baby
Then you can take off for heaven
There is no hell
But no one is allowed to relax all the way
At my house everyone is connected by a string
Our spines are straight
made more so by mourning
We think of names and dishes to pre-make
This Thanksgiving is going to be different
How I wish I was less prophetic
A minor saint with little vision
A much smaller lover of everything holy




Natalie Lyalin

NATALIE LYALIN is the author of  Blood Makes Me Faint, But I Go For It (Ugly Duckling Presse 2014), Pink & Hot Pink Habitat (Coconut Books 2009), and a chapbook, Try A Little Time Travel (Ugly Duckling Presse 2010). She is the cofounder and coeditor of Natural History Press. She lives in Philadelphia.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2014

All Issues