monetization_on House Full of Leaks

by Ellia Bisker

Published in Issue No. 34 ~ March, 2000

Spoon in and circle round
the edges just inside
the furry brown skin.
Smooth touch of metal, then
the cool green taste of fruit:
slippery, not sticky, soursweet.
Only one spoon between us and there’s
half for you and half for me.
The freshness of it shocks our lips.

The sound of water hitting
the bottom of the bucket
in the next room: the ceiling
is leaking from upstairs,
a whole house full of leaks.
The solid slap of water hitting
at irregular intervals, one tile
already down and others coming,
sodden. The water has
buckled the wall paneling,
muscled it into curving shapes
that swell and belly out like funhouse mirrors.

Your face screwed up in distress
as you shake and stumble:
woke up dizzy as a drunkard with a headache
like a skullcap pressing off and on.
You kept pitching sideways with the roll of the floor;
you couldn’t even lie still without heaving
left, then right, as the bed tossed under you.
And shaking with each dizzy spell,
and shaking more and more,
your fine limbs jerking against nothing.

Call a doctor? Wait.
We look up symptoms, causes —
one possibility, blood in the brain,
the worst case.
Every banner in my mind fluttering
in red alarm, I imagine a wet net spreading
behind your eyes like fingers splayed.
Clutching this and other, more hopeful
probabilities (maybe you’re just tired,
maybe this will pass), we rest together
in the dim grey afternoon, rest and wait and see,
each dizzy spell possibly the last.
And through and underneath everything,
the quick leak in the next room,
the unsteady drip in the bucket.
Each drop the sound of green
the tap on the plastic the electric touch
of kiwi spooned on the tongue,
each drop the sound of blood
hitting water and diffusing like smoke,
the image of dense red thinning.

I want to sit over you like a tiger
and guard you while you’re sleeping, sit up
sleepless and narrow-eyed, watch your
breath your slow chest rising and keep
watch for sudden motion while you
sleep I will keep you safe with utter fierceness I will.
Each drop the sizzle and burn
of tiger-orange and strength in guarding.

I will sit up into the alone darkness of
middle of the night to the sound
of water coming down
and the ceiling slowly falling.

account_box More About

Ellia Bisker, also the winner of the 1998 Poetry contest, recently graduated from Vassar College with a degree in English. Currently she works as an Editorial Assistant in New York City and thinks a great deal about grad school. She wrote this poem while studying in France.