Signs

Threading the palm, a web of little lines
Spells out the lost money, the heart, the head,
The wagging tongues, the sudden deaths, in signs
We would smooth out, like imprints on a bed,

In signs that can’t be helped, geese heading south,
In signs read anxiously, like breath that clouds
A mirror held to a barely open mouth,
Like telegrams, the gathering of crowds—

The plane’s X in the sky, spelling disaster;
Before the whistle and hit, a tracer flare;
Before rubble, a hairline crack in plaster
And a housefly’s panicked scribbling on the air.

Gjertrud Schnackenburg