Revolver by Robyn Schiff

The following is a poem from Revolver (University of Iowa Press, 2008) by Robyn Schiff.


Iron Door Knocker the Shape of a Man's Face, by Feetham

Has no fly laid a sac of eggs
in the wet hole in the house finch
dead on the back porch
a week, ten days, not even
the eyes missing, sometimes
I sit by it and read, it’s March,
there is fatness to the air, walking
to the bus, back from the bus, I
miss the confidence
swift burial of the dead
gives us. I used to believe the wild
takes care of itself. I used to believe
maggots arise
like a spring of death
that need only be tapped,
but the flow of incarnation
is much too slow and nothing
comes to debride the flesh
so that my finch
can matriculate into the hall
of its next house
the door of which
is guarded.
You’ve seen door knockers
with the faces of men. In the novel,
the face warms to your approach,
but it’s so few of us who can even
get our body all the way through
the cold negative space
of an unstrung tennis racket
we’re holding. Pilloried in a past life,
who joins us here in this awful heat
clinging to the screen
door? A swarm of mayflies clutching
the wire mesh on their only night on earth.
They defile it until they
die, though it’s not exactly
True they live their whole
lives in one humid day.
They were larvae first, that takes years,
then they emerge starving with no
mouth. Someone hates us very
much. If you walk back from
the lake late in the afternoon, as my
mother did when a girl, you’ll find thousands
on the kitchen door when you return. A thousand
bodies who want in. I don’t
want there to be a thousand faces
on the other side but
my grandmother must have seen them
when she pushed open the door for you.


"Iron Door Knocker the Shape of a Man's Face, by Feetham" from Revolver by Robyn Schiff. Copyright © 2008 by Robyn Schiff. Published by University of Iowa Press.