World of Iron, World of Paper

It was to be the house on North Ola all over
again. Again with midnight intentions, you could walk
the seam that split
the north side from the one that grew

with the tax rolls. Sleepwalking along the attic’s beams,
its wormhole abundance, the archived bulk of grocery lists,
floating invoices processed and deemed
seaworthy. The sheer ream weight

reverse engineering your vaginal birth, its mesmerizing
vestibule of ridged sidelights. It was the mirror
and the lamp
all over again.

A surprise move when you left
the blackened copies behind. Random
the past-sell-date of vegetables ordered. Medical services.
Provided. Pending. Land surveys and legal clauses

dividing one lot from another. The house would be
your arranged marriage. Its altar vows to caulk the gap while
the wood gleam sealed both sides
of an old incision, the troubling lacerations

brought to light in the yawning unsettling. And the center point.
The kitchen’s hidden subfloor, waterways
iron and ancient. Rats’ nests
hidden within steel wool.

The real entrance was scarcely used. Its postal address
on a different street, embroidered with leggy marigolds, sewn
on the bias, nearest the sidewalk. And the trellis only

visible when hit with seven spectrums of light, deep slats
pointless as shelter from rain or sun. Wild west outpost as entrance
or exit. Keyhole down an exhausted well.

By day you’d walk the planked oak between rooms. Invisible
this Maginot line between structures.
Trailing a loose hand that plagiarized wildly
and typed on erasable bond.

The old way.

It was a place you would come to wither and depart.
Somewhere you could walk out of, never crossing a bridge or
burning one. Never paying the ferryman’s price or
giving him advice on how to steer or how to keep

his pole, his totem maintained.
How to salvage the rust prone, the medium of fade and dust.
Which carved faces of birds or gods would protect
or blame us. Offer solace. Sell sleep.

Barter for beads your fraudulent atonement.

C.M. Clark’s work has appeared throughout the U.S. and in Canada. Publication credits include Painted Bride Quarterly, Prime Number Magazine, Vallum Magazine, The Paddock Review, Ovenbird, South Florida Poetry Journal, After Happy Hour Review, and Gulf Stream Magazine. Her work has been anthologized in collections including Demeter Press’s Travellin’ Mama, in Voices from the Fierce Intangible World, and in Chasing Light (Yellow Jacket Press), a pairing of poems and photos of Old Tampa. Clark continues to collaborate with artists from other media, including a partnership with contemporary composer Andres Carrizo; a video project, “String Theory,” with painter Georges LeBar; and Miami’s SWEAT Broadside Project, with artists Dorothy Simpson Krause and Kim Yantis. Clark was runner-up for the Slate Roof Press Chapbook Contest and Elyse Wolf Prize, a finalist for the Rane Arroyo Chapbook Series, and semi-finalist for Molotov Cocktail Press’s Shadow Award. She also served as inaugural Poet in Residence at the Deering Estate Artists Village in Miami and has been a presenter at the Miami Book Fair. She is the author of full-length works Charles Deering Forecasts the Weather & Other Poems (Solution Hole Press, 2012) and Dragonfly (Solution Hole Press, 2016)), as well as the chapbook The Five Snouts (Finishing Line Press, 2017). Her recent collection, Exoskeletal, was released in May, 2019.