Killarney Clary

Maybe they’re all singing to themselves, alone in malls, against foot traffic on sidewalks. A small dark boy kneeling, rubs the chest of a limp man in the parking lot of the 7-eleven; he’s done this before. I can feel the inside of my skin. Don’t Walk/Walk. I am a package that moves across the street, enters the frame shop, brushes up against a cockroach that moves away slowly. Hard shells. Long time. My fingernails tap layers of scotchtape on the table while I wait and I think of the calendar to solidify my life in my head. July.

It takes the old man forever to notice me and when he tears the paper backing he cuts himself on the glass. He says he’s on blood pressure medication, seems a little frantic. With  his finger held high, he turns through a swinging door behind the counter.

The aquatint print of Nancy’s photograph which she’d given me as a wedding present fell off the mantle in the earthquake. Three copies of her face-made-spooky, six big ears, dark pools of eyes and mouths.

Thin blood. Speed of light. Black holes. Someone in the back room replaces the glass while the roach wanders around one end of an electrical strip by the rack of oils. When I carry the picture out, it’s heavier than before.

I buy bagels. I try to think of everyone I know and will see in the next day who might want bagels and how many and do they like onion.


Killarney Clary’s fourth book of prose poems, Shadow of a Cloud but No Cloud, was published by the University of Chicago Press. She has received Lannan Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts grants.