Amanda Auchter


This is the gray mouth she speaks with. 
These are her bones, her eyes, her hands

that rub over the balled glass beads
of the rosary that hangs from the knob

of the headboard.  She lies awake at night,
her legs bowed under the blankets. 

She drowns out the children who sleep
down the hall, their tongues that wag and slop,

the chatter of baby teeth and the cries,

the cries, all gone, still, sunken
into the heavy bellies of their cribs.

This is who she is: dissecting the hours

into round prayers to gods and saints
who slip between her fingers, her teeth, her lips.


The night feels for its phantom limb-
a vacuous black hanging in the heavy shadows

of a bony moon. Its hollowed moan parts the stems
of a pine tree; each spindle gives and bends,

wiping away the sleepy dust of twilight.
It is broken, separated room the blink of the sun.

Night time is a sad comfort for the insomniacs
and they begin to dream awake, sleepwalking,

bumping blindly into walls, their feet icy
and bright in the last howl of the hour before dawn.

The Owls

The owls have migrated south,
using the branches of my pine trees
as their all-night rest stop. 

I shine a flashlight on them,
watch as some sleep, wonder
if they check their internal roadmaps,
ask each other which way to turn,

which way is home.

One settles in a tree alone, silent,
catches his breath.  We eye one another,
suspicious of our movements. 

I pick the black pearls of ants off my shoes,
suffer the bites, step back into the driveway.
The stray owl launches outward, circles over
the spindle top of branch and needle,

then is off, now faceless, eyeless,

bathing in the moonlight.  He flaps, calls,
directs the sleeping, the lost, the tired
onward through the thicket of darkness and fog.

Amanda Auchter currently works as the editor of Pebble Lake Review.  Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Anthology, Antietam Review, Blue Unicorn, The Chaffin Journal, The Homestead Review, Mad Poets Review, Pennsylvania English, Red Booth Review, Writer's Digest Year's Best Writing 2003, and others. She is the author of Burning Sins to Ashes and recently won third prize in the 72nd Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition for memoir/personal essay.


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