Still Life With Mouse Torso and Miniature Grand Piano

by Sandra Meek

Hawk-dropped, the body appears first
as abrasion, a bruising of the concrete drive

slight as noon’s shadow, as Icarus’s falling
through flame and spectacle to the margin
Breughel foregrounded in a sea
of emerald oil.

At ten, I taught myself to see
only distance; I believed the world scaled

far enough down might narrow
toward grace, the human figured too

outsized to enter. Miniature library, kitchen,

music room: each weekend I’d bevel, and stain,
and glue: the piano

the finale, dark walnut gloss spanning my hand, lid extended
like a broken wing—

More glissando
than fester, the torso unzips
to an ivory question, spine

levitating free
of its shock of slate fur.

After a week, barely a gray smudge
mars the driveway’s grainy canvas.

However I had imagined my life
was elaborate as lace, and woven
mostly of air.

No spoil; only vacancy.

Height, and length, and bend, all curl
to a tiny shepherd’s hook, nearing
erasure, insects devouring

distance, what seemed
sanctuary, what let God
forget us, perhaps, though most
drought-driven days I just believe in heaven

eternally empty. Cloudless
from here, though the weather

says rain, an illuminated map
glossing a small shadow’s gathering
away from a coast
saw-toothed with fishing villages

beneath the radar
homing in on the storm far from earth’s shudder

at fault line, the swell
first merely gentling the farthest-out boats
forty-three minutes will surge

to harbor wave, the bone-white land
going under.

Note: “Harbor wave” is the literal English translation of tsunami.


Sandra Meek is the author of three books of poems, Biogeography, winner of the Dorset Prize (Tupelo Press, 2008), Burn (2005), andNomadic Foundations (2002), and editor of Deep Travel: Contemporary American Poets Abroad (Ninebark, 2007), winner of a 2008 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal. Twice awarded Georgia Author of the Year, in 2006 for Burn, and in 2003 forNomadic Foundations, which also was awarded the Peace Corps Writers Award in Poetry, she is Poetry Editor of the Phi Kappa Phi Forum, Co-founding Editor of Ninebark Press, Director of the Georgia Poetry Circuit, and Professor of English at Berry College.