If I Began to be a Kind of Magical Guest,
Then Others Work There
By Laura Madeline Wiseman
say there were only fog, Houdini-like, hard
to define places in that building where I
wouldn’t go or touch. There were doors I
wouldn’t open and window sills with brass
clasps firmly shut. The floors were wood
then, the cabinets. On the walls were shelves
your papa built from scrap, though all I
remember of what was enshrined there were
library books on tape—one book program
selections, travelogues, lifting guides. You
told me that the air felt safe to breathe, but
you never felt the dust’s bite in the lungs.
The linens were stained, threadbare, heavily
bleached, yet the sweat and dirt of the place
made audiobooks dreamlike, almost
supernatural. I vanished into what spooled
into the air where I moved my body alone.
When I tiptoed to windows, bunnies wiggled
in clover on the parking. Men dragged
branches across shadowy alley stretches.
Smokers stood outside back entrances as
mutts circled, stirring up the mists from the
street grates. Though the streetlights
couldn’t reach me, the noise did. The
pressure created dissociations, bodies
floating far off, tethered by strange strings
hooked to the throat. When I told you,
you said nothing. I asked again, still nothing.
Could a building crush? Could it bind a
body with locks, then drop it underwater?
Could it saw someone in half, turn them into
a dove, a plastic bouquet, a handkerchief, a
Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink), twice nominated for the Elgin Award. Her poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Abyss & Apex, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Red Rose Review, Star*Line, Silver Blade, and elsewhere. Her latest book is Through a Certain Forest (BlazeVOX [books] 2017).