Two Poems

by Ruth Foley

Testament

To the charts, I leave the lines that mean
a sudden sinking, others that mean a shelf.

My bricks I leave to the fireplace, although
they are both crumbling and neither will hold
off the birds or a particularly intrepid snake.

The snakes may have the iris bed, whatever
that ivy is that trails along the hem of the woods.

To the carpets, my shoes. To the dresser
my grandmother painted, hands that know to lift
the top drawer to set it back to right.

The compost gets the trowel. The compost and
the worms get each other. The bin gets lined
with stones lest the squirrels get everything.

The squirrels get everything.

To the space between the stars, I leave another
light, perhaps one visible from where you are.

To fingertips, I leave the memory of a sheet
pulled from a typewriter, the scallop of ink,
a series of x’es across a line until the page thins.

The sink has its choice of water or towel.

The wasps get the hiding spaces between
the shingles, any struggling thing they can carry,
and the hope of flight. To the carried things,
I leave a rapid ending, a severed head.

To the circles, I leave the sound of breathing.

To the jagged seam, I leave a tuft of quilting,
a steadier hand than mine, the hope of further
usefulness, and one who sees beauty in damage.

 

With Love, The Choice

You sometimes think you would rather have
recklessness—the leap from the side of
a mountain, the giddy destruction. Sometimes,
the intention of the moment is too much
to understand. But I understand. Ratchet
your head back to the sky. If it’s winter, find
Orion. Make your companions wait while
you contemplate some otherworldly life.
The options might be limitless, but also
the consequences, so take your time—
one hand moves toward midnight, one
moves away, one holds a club, one a lion.
You, too, have been hunting, I see.
What will you do with the flakes of your
discarded decisions? What can hold them?
I have a hand here, and reliable shoes.
I can help you stand. Boredom is better
than wreckage, am I right? Knowledge
is surety, so take a breath and release it
back to the air. It will be slightly changed,
but not for long. Diffusion takes it all,
in time, returns it unaffected. But then, I can’t
tell you anything you don’t already know.

Photo credit

About Ruth Foley

Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her work appears in numerous web and print journals, including Antiphon, The Bellingham Review, The Louisville Review, and Nonbinary Review. Her chapbook Dear Turquoise is available from Dancing Girl Press. She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.

Photo credit—Jed Foley

Ruth Foley

Ruth Foley is online at