After Dinner Nap
Her arm hangs over the bed lazily
like a flower in need of rain.
Sometimes I’d stop to watch her sleep
witness the rise and fall of her chest
like calm waves glittering under a summer moon.
The long lines of light ripple in the liquidity
reflecting sky, the darkness enveloping the clouds.
I’d often wish she’d sit with me under that full moon
low and bright in the expansive night
but she was usually too tired, too drunk to stay awake
as if the world was too much for her
fragile, the way a thin vase balances precariously
on the mantle, little earthquakes rock it back and forth
on its delicate stem. In need of support, but instead
I watch for it to fall, the way it glides through the air
gracefully, the prism of rainbow light it catches
on the way down. The clink of glass as it smashes
apart on the wood floor, some pieces still intact
others irreparable, the way time ravishes even the
most beautiful creatures. When she wakes I see the weakness
tiny fissures that widen with age. It is only a matter of time
before she too cracks, daylight seeping through the dark places
dripping out between the crevices of her loose skin.
The Creak of the Floorboards
Growing up, our houses always had real wood floors
long thin planks of light wood that stretched out
across rooms, down hallways, through closets
underneath throw rugs meant to enhance warmth.
Each plank unique, a slightly different shade of brown
yellow flecks like inflections in one’s eyes
seeing, but not seeing, everything that takes place
within the walls of our home.
The sighs, like sitting down after a long hard day
maybe a long hard life of working, supporting
those who tread across it, all day, some nights
worn in places, chipped in some, splintered, the way
a boardwalk comes apart after years of exposure
to the salty sea air.
It was a status symbol to have genuine wood
not the fake kind that has all the notches and
textured grain, but not the smell, the slippery grip
of the freshly cleaned planks that socks slide so sweetly
across, dangerous if not prepared, correctly balanced
like skating through treacherous ice.
Jennifer Novotney holds an M.A. in English from Northern Arizona University. Her poetry has appeared in Buddhist Poetry Review, Poetry Quarterly, and The Vignette Review. In 2014, she won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for her debut novel, Winter in the Soul. She grew up in Los Angeles, California and lives in North East Pennsylvania with her family where she teaches English.