Issue > Poetry
Vanessa Blakeslee

Vanessa Blakeslee

Vanessa Blakeslee has been awarded grants and fellowships from Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Ragdale Foundation and was a finalist for the 2012 Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship at the Carson MacCullers Center. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Italian Americana, Tampa Review, Southern Poetry Review, New York Quarterly and the Los Angeles Review, among others.

House, Asleep


Father's dream:
through the swinging doors into the diner's kitchen,
Sunday afternoon, a line out the door,
no more pot roast.
All the tables full and everyone with nothing but menus.
A geriatric has a heart attack in the parking lot.
At three a.m., Father sits up in bed and believes
that the blinking red light on the VCR
means the closing cook left the pilot light on.

Father has already watched one of his restaurants
burn to its foundation in the middle of the night,
like the hills of Santa Barbara.

Mother's  dream:
The breathless chug of the adding machine,
bills, bills, bills.
Eldest daughter practices blunt piano.
But then her aunt's pool,
her baby girl face down in the deep end.
Always this dream, this terror, this daughter.
Sometimes the baby slides downstream like
a branch on top of the current, or sometimes,
Mother stands on the deck of their sailboat,
the pale head once again bobbing on the surface
of the brown lake.

How is she to know that in twenty years,
her same fears will surface
as she waits on the bank and cheers
this daughter's crew race?
That she will still sit in front of the machine
spitting its numbers and banners of tape,
and worry about the college team at practice
on the frigid, flooded river?

The Firstborn dreams of snakes.
At her feet, a bed of the writhing things.
A black one disappeared between the bricks
near her grandmother's basement steps yesterday.
Who knew how such a creature could slip into nothing
more than a crevice?
Nobody, except for her.
And Adam and Eve.
Evil thing.
Fat ones with wide open mouths chase her in dreams.

How might she have known that her men
would snake their way underneath the comforter-creases
to devour her heart?

In the crib stirs the Younger One.
What does she dream of yet
but that other world:
supernovas, the sunsets of space.
The blind, warm cocoon of the collective.
Those voices still soothe her from the deep,
like a river raging just below ground
through chasms as magnificent as cathedrals.


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