Licton Springs Review

Something Lurks in Paradise By Tammy Mae McPherson

Pounds of oxygen per hint of sulfur, faintest
Background of light methane, the unique,
Unmistakable scent of rainforest. Different
Flowers grow in these woods.
They all smell wet. Deer
Allow you to approach them,
Softly, but don’t touch.
Their silence is like a siren.

We listen to the rain.
You’d think of mud,
But no.
Lush greenery roots the soil, drinks
Fresh water. Maybe
That was why, when
It didn’t rain,
We quarreled.
But when it rained!

We listened from our tent,
Serene, and happy.
The Sistine Chapel not
More beautiful,
Though its arches overshadowed far
Our six-by-six-foot tents.

Frogs would call.
Insects sing.
A better lullaby than Brahms’,
Rain as tambour,
Forest as orchestra,
The animals out-sang any
Mormon Tabernacle Choir,
Belting out their repertoire
Of Christmas carols at Yule.

Every primadonna in Italy
Could sing her best arias,
Dawn to dusk, until,
Red-faced and panting, she
Finally went hoarse, from jealousy.

Nevermind the birds. (Woodpecker
Pounding out his mating call,
Or breakfast. Owls
At night, sparrows
In the day time.)

The music would echo
For hours, off the mountains, which
Served the melody like a master chef serves his
Pièce de resistance,
White cap and all.
When a nest of baby
Wood spiders
Hatched on our picnic table, we
Let them crawl up sticks,
Carried them gently
To nearby trees.

As summer started to change clothes,
The air got frigid.
Cold, wet, poor, homeless:
We might still have stayed,
But for the slight discord;
Something lurks in paradise.

We named them.
George. Henry. Frank.
Constantly, they slipped
Into the tent, like
It was their own.
Slimed on us like
No ring of salt could ever
Keep them out.

On the pavement, they’d get
Squished by passing cars.
At night, on the way to
The lavatory, between your toes,
You’d feel the remains of a
Thoroughly satiated
(Bisexual to bisexual),
Or rejected,
Felt too deeply either way,
Slug.

Poor George.

Poor Henry.

We did eventually leave those
Lush, wet woods.
We worked
For years to get
What we have now.
We own our own home.
Instead of participating in a
Symphony of rain
At night, we hear gunfire.
We shut ourselves away from it.
We lock the doors.

Instead of listening to owls,
We watch T.V. or play the radio.
Instead of fresh, clean-
Scented gases, we endure
Our own occasional
Smog.

We have electric heat,
Toasty on cold days.
We eat different,
Wholesome foods for
Every meal.

The beds are dry,
Which, one must admit…

We have our own shower now.

Sometimes, on the floor,
As we step barefoot
Into the tub,
We meet old friends.

Hello, Frank. Let’s put you
Back outside,
Where you belong.