Juliet Cook
"When the angel came to us in the bathtub
we should have followed her down together
through the latticed silver drain to the other world...

She would have shown us the distance that we could not cross.
She would have placed her body between us, a warning."

                                Nicole Cooley


Wet silver eyeliner stains my pillow
and I dream
poisonous alloys,
water tainted
with lead.  Weights tied to arms & legs,
I am sinking.
I am slid into
a gray envelope.
Letter openers taunt me.
I want to dig out the silver filling
in my teeth.  In my sleep,
I grind them
with a mortar & pestle.  They ache
when I'm awake.  I'm tired of chewing my
fingernails, spitting out fragments
of scrap metal.

Sometimes I wrap my mouth
around a rusty spigot
Until I am drowning inside.

Sometimes I glimpse the spiraling shape
of something silver glinting from the grating
of the drain.
I can't extract it;
my hands keep floating away.

Sometimes I'm submerged,
sifting through
spilled words
like tiny gleams of silver coins
spit out of a wishing well
or a vortex.


I remember sitting on the edge
of the bathtub, watching you
wash your hair.  Your long hair
a dripping web.
My eyes Black Widows
alive under opening lids.
Your hand on the rim
formed a bridge
to your chest.
Your ribs looked like hinges
I wished to unhinge,
crawl in.

Your fingers sparkled
like silver rings.
I extended my hand;
you inched away.
Your fingers glinted
like silver keys
or blades.

You held out a jeweled lock,
then cut it off.

I remember the lids gaping open;
the hinges exposed.

I remember the bridge

I was staring at your back.
You were wringing out your hair.
You were bailing out the water
as though something had been lost.
You weren't looking at me.  You were
drinking a glass of water and I heard my own words
clinking like ice cubes.
You were spilling a glass of water.
I was kneeling at the rim
of the bathtub; dipping a finger in
to gauge the temperature.
It was too cold.

In your dream,  I was a witch
with sharp fingernails that tempted
your wrist
as I tried to pull you in
to a small, dark space.

I had been hidden
inside a cupboard
beneath the sink.
You discovered me
when you heard something dripping.
You reached inside
and I was melting
where you touched me.
The cupboard began flooding with water
from the sink.

When you saw I could breathe underwater,
you knew I was a witch
and you pulled your hand away.

I can't

really breathe


It was just a



Sometimes I wake up choking,
shrouded in waterlogged sheets;
sodden hair wrapped around my throat
as though it had a life of its own.
Dark shadows creep like spiders.
Maybe they crawled out of my hair or my throat
or some other orifice
to hide in dry corners.
Maybe they'll die there or else
they're just drying their legs
and will come crawling back.

I can't see clearly.
Am I still asleep?
Maybe I should wring out my mercurial sheets
into those dry corners;
let the floorboards warp.