The Space I am Found: Three POems

by Kelly R. SAmuels

Of Two Directions, Once    This should be understood. No second floor with windows open to  trees’ reticulation like your room that fall after the ash’s leaves  had yellowed and everything seemed lit. No dark stairwell, treads  slick and daring. Not even a cellar for storage or safety, some  where to hunch and pray. No, only of two – this way or that –  coming to the end, the bigger bedroom, and then turning back to  gaze down the long hall, all the doors to my right but the one  that served as exit, if need be. Though it lacked steps and required  a leap, those coveted steps of that of brick and stone. That of eaves.  That of the small window nestled in the peak from which the hills  to the north could clearly be seen.

Back & Forth    I only knew some lullabies from beginning to end.  Would substitute words, having heard that story  about dogs and how it’s not what is said  but in what way. Dogs and newborns and the cry  always at 2 a.m. I would stumble from bed to answer  when others in a neighboring city were making  their slow crawl home from the bars like the parents  of the boys I used to babysit years and years ago.</pre>    The ease of the rocker facing the front picture window  with its quiet, tame simulation. There were never  any cars passing by. Only the one street light set  on a timer marking just how long we spent  in that ancient pose some call sacred. Back  and forth, back and forth, so that I sometimes  fell asleep and then woke to find her staring up  at me, her hand curled where another rhythm  could be felt. How difficult: not to soften  all those edges, those nights spanning a year.    when I would wait for those mothers and fathers  to return. Would stand at their window  and count the cars, so wanting to sleep and yet  thinking I couldn’t, as if they didn’t every other  night. As if they stood vigil, only dozing  or prolonging altogether until day made everything  seem safer. They would eventually arrive and he  would drive me home, crossing over the center  line – drifting, drifting – and I would wonder  if that particular night I would die while his sons  slept with their arms thrown over their heads  and their blankets at their feet. Back and forth,    back and forth, until she was fed and warm  and heavy with satiation and I would come to  the last line of the song and rise to rest until dawn.

There must have been chalkboards with their pieces  both jagged and rounded. And shelves and books and  a globe spun slowly or fast, calling for reprimand.  Though all recalled is the bank of windows, floor to  ceiling, looking out on the marsh with its one narrow  road that could only be seen when standing in that  one spot, nose pressed against. More often, just sky  or what graced it with its presence – clouds, the  steady or unsteady trajectory of birds. From the  resting state. Lying on the mat, limbs flung or tucked.  How quickly all the others could fall asleep! Could  suspend observation and the sharing of what was  perceived. How blue that space bordered by frame!  And then the swift or slow passage of what could be  a ship or the snout of a dog lengthening in pursuit.  Stretching itself out for a good run.


Kelly R. Samuels is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She is the author of two chapbooks: Words Some of Us Rarely Use (Unsolicited Press) and Zeena / Zenobia Speaks (Finishing Line Press). Her poems have appeared in Salt Hill, The Carolina Quarterly, Sweet Tree Review, Split Rock Review, and RHINO. She lives in the upper Midwest.