Excavation of a Dream

I sit at the table, elbow up,
propping my chin in my hand
in front of my heavy laptop.
It whirs and whirs,
trying to steer me back to work.
But I won’t go.
Instead, I lean into my daydreams.
I gaze outside.
So many layers separate me from the world.
The soft-pink rose-lace curtains that I chose
to mimic my grandmother’s house
hang light,
overlaying a window with fifteen panes --
all of the panes etched with roses
that sift through the curtains.
Beyond is the shade from the trees,
light and dark gray on the ground.
Someone must have come along
and spilled white paint on the shade,
for here and there blots of white mottle it.
They move with the wind.
The grass lies green,
lime-green or forest green,
its color decided by the shade.
Below is the dirt.
If I dig, it is warm at the top.
But if I dig deep, it becomes cold.
Clumps of dirt cling to my hands.
I return to my laptop.
I begin to write.
I dig deep
and dirty my hands
with unfiltered words.

Phantom Pains

When I awake in the night,
doubled over in pain,

when my throat tightens
like a noose around my neck,
until I cannot breathe,
cannot cry out,

when my chest begins to crumble
around my shocked and shattered heart,

when my arms reach out to the darkness,
only to return,
and encircle my own trembling body,

I stop.
I remember.
It can’t really hurt.
You’re not there.


The Lady of the Fountain

The cold, hard marble of her stature
belies the passion
of the Lady of the Fountain.

She leans slightly forward,
her frozen hair pulled loosely
to the back of her neck.
Her serenity shows in the soft turn of her cheeks. 
Her lips smile a quiet Mona Lisa smile. 
Her gown flows. 

Slick streaks of green and brown and black,
trails of the rains she has borne,
follow her cold curves down to the pond below.
Warm water,
scaled with brown-green algae,
gathers at her feet,

summoned by this Lady
with her curves and flow.


A soft mist settles on her shoulders,

caresses her frozen arms,
kisses her frigid lips.
Within, the Lady feels warm water begin to swell.
Then this vibrant force surges,
engorging her quivering veins.
The burgeoning power pushes
through the growing quiver
to the rounded water jug
she tips toward the pond.

Then -- the surging water pours from the lip of the jug.
The ecstasy of its release
as it spills her life-force
swirls the water in the pond
around and around and around.



Over the years
                she’s lived
In the darkness
                never seeing
Through the windows,
                never peeking
Behind the doors,
               never looking
Over the options,
               always waiting
Without hoping.

Over. The years
Behind her now.
               Fragmentation unified,
               Discordance harmonized.
               What lies
Beyond cohesion?
               How will she be
               Now that she’ll be
               Shatter a kaleidoscope.
               Piece together stained glass shards

Visiting Day

She’s fine, she says.
She’s my sister and she’s doing fine.
She calls the nurse over and introduces us.
We nod, smile, say hello.
“Your sister’s doing fine.”
                                    (Someone is crying in the corner.)

She drinks, but not in here.
“I haven’t had a drink in weeks.
I’m doing fine.”
I nod. I smile.
“The doctor changed my medicine.
I’m doing better. “
                                    (Someone is crying in the corner.)

“It’s hard for me,” she says.
“Let’s not,” I say.
“Not what?”
“Compete. Play superlatives. Life is hard.
The hardest life is always your own.”

She starts to cry.
“Don’t let them see me crying,” she says.
“If they see me crying, they’ll never let me out of here.”

I hold her, hide her.
The nurse comes over. She nods and smiles.
“How’s she doing?” she says.
“She’s doing fine,” I say.
She’s my sister and she’s doing fine.

Someone is crying in the corner.

© Cynthia Pitman

Bio:  She has had poetry published in Literary Yard and Right Hand Pointing. The title of the RHP issue, The White Room, is from her poem, and the artwork is designed around it. She has poetry forthcoming in Postcard Poems and Prose, and a short story forthcoming in Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art.