Closet Chatter


i remember a silhouette,
its slow kitchen-dance on dilapidated walls
& the rose hush that blanketed the air

i have the faintest memory of laying down colored pencils,
pushing my art du jour forward:

we played a game
a quick number where my eyes chased its zigzag movements,
where my heart expanded up, outward
rising like sunrise along incondite alleyways

it was a nippy par four

            & for a moment i felt close to her

for only a split second
as tulips drew their lips in, and the fog on our windows

the cement on which i sat shook
like it was going to open & swallow me

when it didn’t, the apartment seemed to warm,
though we hadn’t had heat all winter


i squeezed them in a past life,
those wolded hands, those fingers—
long and thin like fashionable skyscrapers
how they trotted off magazine pages
& danced a black jive in front of my face

            still the color of a malted sunset
            but now, midnight cracks
            gurgle stubborn veins

& she thought she’d never get old
she really believed she’d live forever

a historical image that sticks
[too moving to let it move on]
a smell that follows you from morning        till

perhaps her ashes will flutter,
winging free from the confines of this american urn,

perhaps they will catch a ride, hitchhiking,
settling on the broad back of time


therapy sessions are held in my closet,
where pleather thigh-highs hang their tags
on the wall behind them, the small font urging
me to give up squinting & look elsewhere,

where they stand upright and stare at me until

                        i begin to speak

twice a week we do this, & i lie on the floor,
the carpet both itchy and scratching

            the boots point their tips in my direction
                        they jab without moving
                        they huff without breathing

so i close my eyes and try to breathe in her smell,
try to pretend like her feet are slipping into place,
her gentle hops stifling their mutters

            & soon, i can hear the plastic ruffles of the pleather,
            the grunts and curses as she rubberbands
            boots over thick brown thighs


when i add it all up, the sum should configure hate

when the numbers crunch, their staccato punches
should produce an irrational product:

                                    a figure that wont divide, wont multiply, wont add

                                                just wont

when my lids curtain down and my lips purse together in anger
when my hands shake, those tiny ticks of unresolved business
when my left foot twitches and my thighs cringe in cramp

when this happens, i know to open my eyes, stand up
& get the hell out of the closet.

Mimi Ferebee is the editor-in-chief of RED OCHRE PRESS. Look for upcoming publications in the award-winning phati’tude Literary Magazine and the revered Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora, James Dickey Review, Taj Mahal Review (India), Reverie: Midwest African American Literature, Pirene’s Fountain, ABBEY, Haggard and Halloo, among others. Her full length English-Spanish poetry collection, Seraglio, will be published by Patasola Press (Fall 2011).

This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Closet Chatter

  1. Donal Mahoney says:

    One terrific poem by a poet I had not heard of and now will not forget.

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