Mark Seidl lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, where he works as an archivist and special collections librarian. Dust from the items in the collection often causes him respiratory distress, but that’s a small price to pay for leisurely leafing through sixteenth-century books. His poems have appeared in Arsenic Lobster, Good Foot, and Melusine.
They have stopped talking
this man and woman, their mouths
shut to tight curls as if scratched
above their chins with a pin. The wall
behind them is so blue you
want to ride a train far south
to a city where white walls erupt
in bougainvilleas, and you could
not blink away the liquid
afterimages of white
dresses even if you wanted to
wear sunglasses. Between the man
and woman a big window opens
onto a park with three ponds
blue as the wall but relieved
by red flecks of lilies, the way
paper lanterns relieve
those who launch them on
a river to burn in the slow
current, gray smoke rising
to make a dead uncle smile.
The woman doesn’t turn
to the lilies. There should be
a bird on the windowsill,
a goldfinch, its yellow so
shocking in all that blue
the woman turns her head
just as her lip begins to tremble.
But she has no lip, her mouth
a tiny closed suture even if
she could plead or denounce.
Just the plummeting line of her breast,
the black cup of her eye brimming
at the man, columnar in his blue-
striped pajamas, at the words that died
into this blue, birdless silence.