Cheryl Snell: Two Poems
Durwan | Watchman
Their charity brings her here, crouched low
behind the iron gate, warding off danger with her broom
of river reeds and her set of jangling keys.
For her service they drop spice into her sambaar,
coal onto her grate. They let her live in the stairwell,
sleep on their used newspaper. In the morning
her sari is printed with words black as dirt.
She canít remember how long she has been lost.
A whiff of wind-borne jasmine pulls her back
to her days of luxury: a concrete bathtub, a blanket
made of lambís wool. When a servant shoos a vagabond
off the veranda, she takes up her keys, rattles them.
"Where are his alms?" she cries. She pictures her old doors
opening, hands tugging her inside, her fists
which once held up the world saved from another lifetime
He wakes at gunpoint in his dream, heart beating
him about his head and ears. He tumbles down a well
where cracked walls circle him, wheezing;
a lid clangs across, eclipsing sky.
He thinks about the bereaved, how they line up
at ticket counters looking for their own way out.
And because epiphany loves a well, because it storms
the half-glimpsed memory, it rises to meet
the sliver of eclipse that burns eyes awake
while the body keeps on drowning.
Cheryl Snellís work has appeared in journals such as Antietam
Review, Petroglyph, Comstock Review, Washington Review and River Oak Review.
Her novel Shiva's Arms won an honorable mention from the Dana Literary
Awards and was a finalist for the Omaha Prize. Her chapbook of poetry
entitled, Flower Half Blown, was published in 2002 by Finishing Line Press and
has been nominated for the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry. She and her sister Janet Snell, a visual artist, have collaborated on projects such as Heads, an e-book published by March Street Press in 1998, and the forthcoming Prisoner's Dilemma. Ms. Snell is a pianist and lives in Maryland with her husband, an engineering professor.