Two Poems

Adrienne Oliver



This room is bare. This room is bare
and we are alone in it. This room is bare,
and we are alone in it, invisible
stars in the blankness.

An announcer stands enter, holding a blank rectangular card. As they speak, lights dim to a spot directly above them. 

III. in September, there were earlier sunsets, and also you died.

We took up a love affair with spaghetti squash, twirling tendrils of farm’s
majesty about forks, stabbing at feelings on pooling, butter-slick plates.
Child of promise, splayed in pieces on a street whose name I could not
pronounce because I never really committed to Spanish. Some days. Then,
we arrived home to a blackbird beady-eyed on the mat. ‘Mothers aren’t
meant to mourn their babies,’ psssh. Any mother worth her weight knows
that’s the whole of it. Death is an anthology of small things like the cold
porch, or the distance between the moon and Vietnam, or the exact shade
of pink that spread, blotchy, across her weepy round face. Most weeks, I stay
alive so my last draft won’t be my last draft. I asked Shame for tea, just to
talk. How you doin’, sis? ‘Bout the same. Imagine! Gave old girl the perfect
opening, and she just hung around the door asking after the baby. She’s
working hard to make herself useless in the end times. I tried a sharp red
lipstick, and we’re thinking of giving up the cat. The elfling mimics nature
documentaries now and etches sturdy Ps, and I allowed two sets of lips to

kiss mine.

The announcer folds the card. 


Poet, or woman on earth: 

Lights out.
In black, an orchestra tunes.
Playback: audio transcript.



Projection: Sweet Thing, No. 76.

woman speaks. 

Silence isn’t quiet. Quiet is the sound of
homes falling asleep or car traffic dying
down and restaurants clearing out, or
when my child sneaks off to play alone. 

A chorus of muscular brown bodies
enter the space from all corners,
below and above, until a constellation forms.
From their ranks the Allmother emerges. 

Silence is the echo of expectation. Stalled
breath awaiting touch or a firm breast
waiting for the milk to let down, the lost
check; a sharp fermata. 


I must teach my love to be loud like this. I
must teach my love to be symphonic awe.
I will grow children wild and flowers free.
I will saunter wide, stop time. 


A man enters with a tape recorder in hand.

He set the machine on the table. 

In hushed wreckage, may I be the tonic.

He stops the machine.