floating woman detail

Carnations, Pigeons

"Carnations, Pigeons," by Bainbridge Island poet Amanda Williamsen, finds a hapless heroine drifting skyward each night, her heaviness draining from her head like sand. Mornings, she wakes startled, fallen, back in bed. She wonders if her problem might be gas.

Every night it is the same. Her stomach
rises first, lifted from the bed like a noodle
across fork tines. Shoulders and legs follow,
and the feet, buoyant, drift upward
so that her body angles like a poorly weighted
corpse in a lake. This is uncomfortable.
She hates the grit of ceiling plaster
against her cheek all night, but in her sleepiness
she forgets to protest; her last heaviness
drains from her head like sand. Mornings,
she wakes startled, fallen, back in bed.
She wonders if her problem might be gas.
She avoids broccoli, beer, and cauliflower
until one morning she wakes with a craving
for vegetables, rushes to the supermarket,
and returns with two dozen mauve and yellow
carnations. With the flowers on her nightstand,
she concentrates on their pale scent
before falling asleep, lying still so she can
smell it, stay near it. But soon, she bumps
like a balloon against the ceiling and cannot
get down till morning. She is losing weight
and her falls bruise her; once she drifted
into the kitchen and woke above the stove.
The best thing to do, say her friends,
is to tie her down. They find some extra
bed sheets and knot her to the mattress.
Is she comfortable? they ask. Oh yes, she says.
They open the window for the first time in months.
While she sleeps—happily, gratefully—her friends
borrow her television, her microwave oven,
her jewelry, her Hoover and all its attachments,
her nesting set of stainless steel
mixing bowls, all of her toilet paper, etc.
In the morning, the carnations are gone.
She cannot get up to look for them.
She is ecstatic. All day she lies in bed
while some pigeons trot across her windowsill.
The gray and black ones look like grooms,
she thinks, and the mottled white ones
could be brides, their feathers oily, iridescent.

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Amanda Williamsen

Amanda Williamsen

Ohio-born poet Amanda Williamsen is a former Poet Laureate of Cupertino, California. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Baltimore Review, Midwestern Gothic, The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, red wheelbarrow, and Pathways, a journal of the Ohio Humanities Council. She now lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

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