Black Silk

A waterfall spills
from the lip
of a cliff, pounds

down in torrents
like wintry rain.
A bird pulls away

from its shadow,
both lost, bird into air,
shadow drifting,

cryptic colors
on moving branches
like the moving light

of hundreds of corpse
smoke, click of beads

in the flickering.
Fog light.
Fetch light.

Stifling black veil.
Black dress
of looking-glass silk,

tie-ribbon black
as a raven’s eye.

Linen Heart

What does a rabbit want at the door,
nose to the screen, pawing its way,

ears aquiver in rabbity panicking?
What walks without legs and flies

without wings? Why is time
cooking us? Solve the riddles,

and you will be queen—the axe
a woodman with only one tooth,

wick a heart made of linen,
woman’s head chewed by flame.

Wind passes, no hands, no feet, but
opens the door. Someone looks

into a mirror and finds an old woman.
Mama, mama, she calls to the mirror.

Four things travel to tell you this:
three fingers, this dark track of ink.

Snow Fences

When she says feathers, she means stones.
I’m in a restaurant reading a book. She
points to a door and says mousetrap.

She lives in Long Branch. The sand bares
its big belly there. Snow fences lay down
spindly shadows that painters turn into

columns, volutes, spiny acanthus leaves.
Her mother. That’s what she writes about.
What she did as she died, the constant

waving and frantic efforts to take off
her clothes. I order a cookie the size of
my fist. The poet named her dog Athos.

When she calls he comes to her hand.
I understand painters, the way they run
naked, shrieking through streets to the bay.

When she says love, she means forgiveness.
When she says stones, she means stones.

BARBARA DANIELS’ Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press in 2020. Daniels’ poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, and elsewhere. Daniels received a 2020 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.