The Wake

The Wake- Batts, Allie Marini

Allie Marini Batts

After the funeral, we promised to flush away all her pills and watch them dissolve, coiling their way down the plumbing. Uncapped bottle by bottle, the bipolar colors and anxious shapes are a prediction of the storm whose tidal surges and gale-force winds left a wicked rainbow smiling over the swath of wreckage on the shore. Blue ovals, like fish laid out belly-up on the sand, had been meant to harness her racing thoughts and rear them in, like feral horses whose sturdy backs had broken beneath the bite of a switch. The sleepy white bricks were sandbags, shored up around her foundations; a fortress of feeble defenses meant to keep the flood of sleeplessness from gushing in under the cracks in her doorjambs. Rounds of diazepam, each of them seafoam green and promising her calmness, like the still surface of the ocean.

We should have known it was only the eye of the hurricane passing through. The most terrible beauty lies in the moment where the world is ripping itself in half and a sudden quiet tricks us into faith. The worst of the storm is always on the other side of stillness. Old wives sit in rockers on the porch afterwards, telling stories about the Banker ponies, Spanish Mustangs who were too tough to die, who swam through the wrath of a tempest to the safety of the shoals.

When we opened the mirrored face of the medicine cabinet, we already knew that all the bottles would be empty. The missing colors of all those absent pills are the palette that we use to paint a ghostly picture. An angry swirl of meteorology threatened to make landfall, and its trajectory could not be predicted.  We battened down the hatches and prayed when the winds picked up. Empty pill bottles, landfall, a Nor’easter born off the coast.

After the funeral, her silhouette is reflected in the stillness of the porcelain sink, riding bareback on a pony that has thrown its bridle. They gallop into the surf and disappear beneath the undertow.

1 Comment

  1. A “most terrible beauty” indeed. A storm, in the best Romantic tradition. Tense and terse; low-key poignancy; high but contained, subdued emotion. All is in the words, in the syntax, with just a hint of a “plot”. One of the best prose poems I have read in years of careful reading.


  1. Spry is Live! (some favorites from the first issue of a new online journal.) « The Garret - [...] Spry is about short powerful pieces, let me recommend three small pieces that pack a big punch: The Wake…

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