Means of Entry
by Cait Shea

In the morning my coffee is black
You know this about me, now.

We take inventory of things
We think might mean knowing.

Silence turns my smile to shitgrin, wonder
What I am running from or chasing.

I tell you about my songs, ones
Made to tear through the dirt.

When the music stops, it is 2 am
We are still in the dark, together. 

Your palm rests on my neck, needles
That bore into my skull flower.

And I want to tell you about the time
I heard my mother calling
From behind the bedroom door
My name, a desperation       And how

I strung out the roll of tissue,
The urgent trail, a lifeline, how
Red spots blotched against white ribbon and
I tried my best to rub the floor free of rust.

And I want to tell you about the time
We left in the middle of the night, how
Just before our fingers found the deadbolt
The broken glass fell away in fury       And how

My mother lay me down on mossy carpet that night,
New to us, stale with cigarettes, the stink of another’s
Worthless life, a cockroach watching from the windowsill
Moonlight striking the room with a soft silver point       And how

My half-closed eyes cracked the curtain over
Her face, so sad and calm, a flash of 
Something my unripe frontal lobe
Couldn’t place for years       And how

The glint of the blade she kept on her belt turned
Towel-wrapped, to be kissed to sleep in a drawer.

Even then I wanted to hold it, its weight a lesson in
What still could be, despite the walls around us.

It is dark when I wake and I dress
In my favorites, more truths you have earned.

And I wait to tell you
These things that I cling to. 


Cait Shea is a writer and nurse residing in Iowa City, Iowa. She has been an active participant in the Iowa City Poetry community group since January 2021. She most favors writing about the human predicament of vulnerability.