Thursday, September 1, 2005

Honeymoon by Train

She sat on the suitcases.
He went again to the counter
to ask when it was coming. "Late"
was all they would say. It was almost two.
Married fourteen hours,
nothing left to say. They sat,
missing their connection in Chicago,
missing the ferry in Michigan,
losing their hotel reservations.
But now the platform was humming.
And now he was lifting her up
onto the narrow shelf bed
where they began the creak
squeal, lurch, and clang into their future.
Out the window it was passing,
slowly, then faster: backs of warehouses,
backs of factories, junkyards,
wrapped in trash and shadow.
Then, "Look," he said, "it's Instant Whip."
A spotlighted billboard: white, red, clean.
"Instant Whip," she repeated,
in her fog of love and fatigue.
She would remember this sign, this night,
as years blurred like trackside trees,
his socks still on the floor,
the gas tank left empty,
her lip numb from biting back words;
she would remember her head on his chest,
his arms around her, rocking, rocking,
how like whipped cream
the expectations heaped on the plate
collapsed in the mouth like so much air,
but leaving the taste, sweet,
yes, sweet.

Cheryl Gatling

published in The Sun

Saturday, January 1, 2005

Poem About Faith

I’m kneeling in the shower,
naked, wet,
peering down the black hole of the drain.
I can see my gold earring there.
I can just grip it with the tweezers,
but I keep dropping it.
Careful, steady, squeezing tight,
almost up, and the earring falls.
I’ve been at this a long time.
I’m going to be late for work.
But I believe I can do this.
I believe two people can stay married for a lifetime,
that we can rescue troubled kids,
that this war will end.
I believe in forgiveness.
I believe God loves us.
And again, the earring falls.

Cheryl Gatling

published in The Comstock Review

The Mark

On every stoop a paper.
At 149 Shotwell Park, a balloon,
a box of chocolates, a sheaf of roses.
It’s six AM. Another hour, and doors will open.
Men and women in various shades of gray
will shuffle out, yawning, to pick up
their Post-Standards and Wall Street Journals.
At 149 Shotwell Park, one woman,
(or maybe a man) will touch the roses
and burst into peach and pink and gold,
her robe glowing emerald, jade
and electric chicory blue.
Someone here is loved. And you,
for whom I wrote this poem,
you also bear the mark. Go to the mirror
and touch your shining face.

Cheryl Gatling

published in Comstock Review