A friend reminded me recently of joy—
my joy. My laugh, infectious, she said. She’s remembering
the games we played in seventh grade.
Dialing random numbers from the phone book—
Tell me a story, we’d say to whoever answered. I need stories
to survive. The daughter I don’t have making angels
in a foot of new snow. Or sometimes angles
because the confusion delights her—lying down
once, then again, stretched out against her own
otherness. My niece, at three, is afraid of angels.
Please, Mommy, not the angels, she says
whenever her mother sings Angels watching over me,
my Lord. She doesn’t like the idea of being watched
by something she can’t see. There’s a kind of spider
that sees as well as a cat. We saw one—my wife and I—
pacing on the railing of our front porch. It stared at us,
we stared back. Its body, the shape of a tiny gorilla.
Darwin said the eye gave him a cold shudder. I want a story
that ends in joy. I want to enter a house in which every window is open—
it’s just beginning to rain and there’s my mother
hurrying to shut each one. Moving through the house
with the urgency of a bird trapped inside. One pane,
then another. Only, she isn’t trying to leave.
She wants to stay.
Lisa Dordal teaches in the English department at Vanderbilt University and is the author of Mosaic of the Dark (a finalist for the Audre Lorde Award) and Water Lessons (both from Black Lawrence).