Date Night in New York City
Dear Francis, I am ringing you up on the telephone
because it has a rotary dial that makes me sing
like Ann-Margret as my finger swings the numbers.
The dial makes me feel like your every month
pinup girl—more fitting than homecoming queen,
Miss December, Miss June, Miss Camillus Mall.
The vintage satisfaction of turning the dial
all the way to nine just to watch it fall back.
I whisper words like “steady” and “darling”
to the receiver and the air talks back.
I mean it, you ghost on the other end of the line.
Remember New York? We were crossing the street
and a pug crossed the other way. You said
it was rude to stare and I thought it was weird
because it was just a dog. Then you were on another train
and I was headed somewhere else. We could have
had a good time. I would have shown you the restaurant
where the bathroom walls are tall windows
looking onto dead tracks. A cold line. This cold call.
Taking trains everywhere, believing we were the lights.
Francis, what kind of people think they get to be the fucking lights?
Date Night with Found Bat
We bring the cat inside and talk experts.
A long nightshirt hangs over my legs.
This bat between you and me
is a bat between me and my face.
The green pantry.
A smoky mirage in the wood grain
portends a corkscrew with a cork
stuck on the coil. My fingers
threaded through your knuckles.
A foyer in your back.
Too much space on each side
of the mattress. Too little between us.
Between us, a bat wing.
A little brown bat wing.
I am less amazed
by how they fall to fly,
than how they balance
on the toes to walk.
Even adults are small.
Our bat rides a white truck
to Albany, folded into himself,
stunned on a bed of ice.
Soon the streets will fold into winter.
On either side of a season, a city,
or what we want: a full night’s rest,
a still pair of wings.
This box lined with ice.
This house of February.
Swollen stairs nail winter
to spring. Ice freezes wide across hallways.
On my third call to the psychic hotline,
I voice concerns for these rooms.
Bedroom, kitchen. Rumpus room
with mini-fridge and pool table,
green felt I stretch across.
A stranger takes my picture.
I lay my head on the top rail,
cool veneer snowed in chalk.
I pin a target to the dartboard.
Admire construction paper stippled
in point values, wonder where
my heart lands on the diagram
detailing precision. I pull the blinds.
A dog’s thin silhouette distorts
in the vinyl. The stranger will return
next year. His form goes out
the front door with his footsteps.
The nights he is here convince me
there is no solar nature. Only sun.
Always amethyst, dragging
an enormous self back
into the ground. If there is an exit
from this room, a hero will find it.
The hero will want the dull ruby
growing at the bottom of this well.
GINA KEICHER is the author of the poetry collection Wilderness Champion (Gold Wake Press, 2014) and the chapbook Here is My Adventure I Call it Alone (Dancing Girl Press, 2015). She is an associate editor for Black Lawrence Press. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, BOAAT, inter|rupture, and Whiskey Island. She lives in Ithaca, New York.