on the page magazine

issue no. 8, autumn 2002



by Darcy Cummings

After six months
I find the door and step
into my kitchen. I see myself at the oven,
trying to lift a huge turkey.
What a relief:
like the miraculous folk tale enchantments—
the statue surrogate for an errant nun,
the cookies standing in for children—
something stepped into my skin
and moved, however awkwardly, through my life.
Rough miracle, unaccustomed to modern appliances,
it missed dust in corners,
never mastered touch or smile.
Okay, I tell it, I'm back,
and wriggle into my slack skin,
staggered by the weight of the ordinary.
In the living room the Christmas tree winks
over the stacked gifts.
I stretch, cautious as the tin man,
creak a smile and call my family.
Still suspicious, but unwilling to cry
witch, the children sense
I am back and move closer.
They pull at my skirt and apron.
My heart stalls, catches,
settles into a contented rumble:
this is the happy ending.
Mashing potatoes, I realize
I can't remember where the door is.
After supper I'll try to find it,
try to seal off that dangerous exit.

Darcy Cummings lives in Laurel Springs, N.J. Her work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Journal of New Jersey Poets, and Timber Creek Review, among other publications. She is currently working on a series of poems about a (fictional) 19th-century woman photographer.

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