small textlarge text

Amy Pence

The Omitted Center

Download MP3

Around which

all the hands in your body go—moths

put their tiny labile mouths— night’s fret

more intricate than one had supposed

Remember the

tantrums, the soiled pants—there was a time

when the girl lay prone like balsa wood

would not let you go—clung to you

Around which

traffic feeds in and then away

from the city center

Miles and miles of it—catacombs

of— a spiral: bridge and girder    concrete

and guardrails, oil spots darkening the hot

cemented length speckled to the arduous no

Around which

the river lesions the silent city, past the moss-

crudded hills—what is shorn was shorn

from us:     ago and long       go

Her fingers

pried away, the palms:  don’t and don’t

as if every no had the potential for yes

The Secret of Roan Inish; her sobs slant

exclude all possibility but

what?the want-want

Her ragged eyes

dim duskier because court-

orderedher goingtrepidation as truth/

back     from a visitation/ said she wished

she had a sister

Her mouth now

grown sulky as a teenager: did you know,

could you, when she was born

hot animal with her black hair stuck wet

to her round and fascinating skull

that each defilement:each defilement

Around which

the ghost sisterwalked

the one it was done to:can I have a sister?

she saidthen she’d be the one drug from the bed

that onethat other

starving herselfsometimes

a rapat the door

it’s late Miss Dickinsonher father said

Around which

you walked years later with a second husband

The Rock of Cashel, Ireland—gothic

chapel arched around the cast-out bodies

archedaround which

you could almost forgetthe past’s green

and mossed citya hologram for Kings

Around which

traffic vomits its way down 20 to 285

the succubus of the funnel to 400

toll booththe long manicured nails

take your oily nickelsplatinum

grimy turn down the turnpike

a school bus hoversclose

you rememberseeing her

sitting aloneon the bus

staring out the window

the ghost sister beside her

Because:  standing there

you: unverbed

the blank-to-blank

numb circuit


Around which

you skirta multiverse

the sucked-down holeyour car

taking you bothoff into

night trafficturning to ghost

her smilein the wan

Return, this eternal return

back toboth your heads shorn

the hair dyedin disguise

exiting the cityleaving—

light barstravelacross

her face’s alternatesister

numb circuitthe want/want

whatyou didn’t do

cannot   undo

➥ Bio