Three Poems

Diane Tucker

evening together

finally, one across a table from another—
one heart, a path of hewn wood, then another heart

the room seems dark and there is too much talk
of books, or the lack thereof; not enough discussion
of eyes, of hands, of the newly rainless night

so the moments sway: a leaning away,
a keening toward, lacing between
drink and meat and the last bite of bread

they settle under a cloud of beer and coffee
and a predatory gratitude they cannot keep
from opening their two damp-knotted throats

gratitude eats them alive; they find they can
walk down the crowded street while it chews
their hearts, as long as each clutches the other’s hand


the spider isn’t attached

a country-sized silence
severs us, severs the one thread
ever stretched between us
thin as spider’s web, as entangling
as silver and as full, after dewfall, of tears

do you feel the lurking stickiness
of walking through a spider’s web
a trap baited with summer morning
beyond it a cool turning path
with its imagined blackberries
but between you and sweetness
hangs the silver track-stopper
do you jump, hop, brush yourself
hope the spider isn’t attached somewhere
riding home on the back of your neck

you’re like the bat that got in the house
swooped silently back and forth
across the TV-lighted ceiling
followed me up to the bedroom
and had to have doors and windows left open
to let it back into its native night

it was trapped
it didn’t want to be here
it just made a stupid mistake:

my life
a blue-lit nightmare
into which you blundered



I. My wanting’s voice

I was a child’s invisible friend
who had not found my child.

I fell into the trap of imaginary
comforters—I set my heart.
I set my heart on a certain child, you,

instead of waiting for the one
given me. I desired a voice,
undesired the rest of the voices.

I could not make you imagine me.

Even when I thought I heard you calling me,
it wasn’t the real you,
just my wanting’s voice, my desire.

The voice was probably
my child, the one given me,
he who alone could see me.

I frustrated this given one—
my invisible heart wanted you. He tried
to imagine me; I refused to appear.

You will never imagine me.

He grew up thwarted,
enraged, drinks too much and hates
his children’s lengthening faces.

You imagined another, grew up
to make music, to play,
to make and give love.

I remain a shade, and this is in no way
romantic. I watch from this limbo.
I am unimaginable.

II. Through me

It’s your imaginary friend here.
Addressing you directly. Listen:

I’m here so you can go through me
to that which is behind me,
through me to what’s Real.

Are you listening? You have to go through me,
so come close. I’ll stretch out wide for you.
Approach with your arms open, like mine.

So here we are face to face, as always. Yes.
I do like this, but you have to go further.
Be against me. Yes. Like that.

The next part is most difficult. At the same time
you and I will each take a step forward.
It’ll be all right. Trust me.

I’ll count three,
then you’ll go through me.
one  two  three:

III. Go beyond

green light—the skin, the body’s largest organ
all full of a white burning, eyes spun over
to stare into the luminous kernel of the skull

one more step
now a friction, like sliding naked
across a cat’s tongue

the green light pales and shrinks
there’s a sucking like boots stuck in mud
we pull and snap

You’re through.
Through me—scraped clean like a peeled carrot.
You can go beyond to what’s Real.

But first, if you please,
take a last look back at me


Your pass has brought me through, too,
rendered me real. You couldn’t
get back through me now if you wanted to.

I wanted just once to wave with this hand;
leave you a smile made
with the real lips you gave me.


“B.C.’s Nightwood Editions published my first poetry book, God on His Haunches, in 1996. It was shortlisted for the 1997 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. My poems have been published in more than forty literary journals in Canada and abroad, including Harvard Review, Event, Canadian Literature, Descant, TickleAce, The Dalhousie Review and Prism International. You can see a complete list of publications in my Poetry CV at” E-mail: puzzle[at]

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