Lana's Day as a Poet
LANA HEARD the scuff behind her and jumped but didn’t turn, enjoying a frisson of anticipation as she pictured either a drunken possum or an axe-wielding fiend. When the noise proved to be a rake dragged languorously through the kitchen by her husband Clarence, Lana felt disappointed, then proud of her suddenly lush imagination.
She dropped the laundry basket and began writing a poem in which a possum was both an axe murderer and an evocative symbolization of third-world politics—Lana thought Uganda, but after hours on the Internet, she realized her error. Uganda reminded her more of a dybbuk—wasn’t that the Jewish version of a succubus? Perhaps she meant a dik-dik: the small deer of the African bushlands. She’d opened too many tabs and her computer balked at reviewing the browsing history, much, she imagined, like a car engine on a frosty morning. A Buick. ’89 Regal. Painted the green of fresh nettles.
In bed that night she fretted until Clarence said, “Baby, here’s an extended metaphor for you,” and she appreciated it, but afterwards the question of whether the experience best resembled the Coney Island roller coaster or a Japanese tea ceremony drove her mad.
“No wonder we die young,” said Lana the next morning, wearing an Ophelian white dress and a wreath of forget-me-nots on her way out the back door, knowing one thing with certainty—that she was now a poet, like Swinburne, or Sexton, or Woolf. Plath maybe? Anyone else, really, who had ever set out for the ocean/farm pond/bath anticipating the sensation of water edging up their pliant skin, comparing it to the lapping of kittens (if warm), or (if icy) the Socratic method, the one with the hemlock and observant disciples, feeling like death: the ultimate simile.
Katherine West is the bemused possessor of an English degree from Oklahoma City University and a well-worn hard hat. The degree launched her into a career welding and inspecting railroad cars; the inevitable wear & tear sent her back to her desk in Norman, OK where she is completing a novel about Rumpelstiltskin and the fallout of greed. Her work has appeared/is forthcoming in Gargoyle, The Drabblecast, and The Fish Anthology (Ireland) as an honorable mention for their International Short Story prize.