Cheryl Snell – Two Prose Poems


The Rumor of a Lighthouse

We leave the smog of the city for the fog off the coast and enter a house that makes more sense to us. A lean-to of driftwood with seaweed stairs to climb—we climb them all, foam swallowing our swollen ankles. We think we can trick the mist that follows us; and so we rise on rubber toes to spy on the haze rolling against the windows. We see that it takes off water-drops the way we wipe away tears.

Sea-smoke is seeping through walls already wet. You point to a lighthouse made of complicated greys. It floats in the middle distance and I worry it will charm you away from me. By the time you shout, you come, too, I have lost my faith in beacons. I know how clouds mislead and seen how fog wipes out the sky—I barely felt it when it slipped in sideways to stroke my humid skin. Still, your dry mouth. My parched throat.


Circular Causality

Outlined in a dirty window is an ellipse. It is the egg of the room; one answer to the question of which came first. Some of us disagree with the window’s conclusion and want to draw our own. We streak the glass with what we think the egg will need to give up its hidden chicken—nightsticks and tear gas and rhetoric. We think we can crack it, the way they do spines of books and inner-city innocents. The effort exhausts our muscles, our breath obscures the glass. Our perceptions wobble and wave.

One morning the egg has been disappeared. Why such rent and rift in our warp and woof? Did we lose our egg because we swallowed all the birds? No, no, that egg was only an illusion. It was never meant to hatch, though we might have waited longer, we could have waited for the wings now budding from our backs.


Cheryl Snell is the author of two novels and six collections of poetry. The most recent, Geometries (Moria Books), was written in collaboration with expressionist painter Janet Snell. More at