Our Lady of the Silverfish

by Elizabeth Vignali


You find the cracks for me—the small space
behind the triangle of peeling wallpaper,

the crevice in the plaster, the air between
one page and the next. O Lady, show me

the hidden. Silver splash stacked among
the good china. The shine between piano

keys, bathroom towels, floor boards, grout.
Powder through the holes in my curtains.

Paint the dark corners bright, soften all
hard surfaces. Nothing is impervious

to your diminishing, your glinting familiars.
O Lady, you gleam unseen, shine for no one

but yourself. When I bought this house,
pulled up the carpet to find the padding

below gone to chemical yellow dust, you
bestowed your first teaching. O Lady, I am

finally ready to receive it. Give me the window
lightning-split, the doors that won’t close,

the linoleum curled at the kitchen baseboard,
the frayed silk patchworn couch. My mother’s

childhood marbles sunk in the backyard sod,
Grandad’s spiderwebbed toolbox, the note in

Grammy’s handwriting swept in a draft from
where it slept for 30 years under the hall cabinet.

I can’t have these without the other. Now
when I open a book and catch the flash of one

of your disciples, O Lady, I close it again, oh so
carefully, and put it back upon the shelf.

ELIZABETH VIGNALI is the author of Object Permanence and Endangered [Animal], and coauthor of Your Body A Bullet. Her work has appeared in Willow Springs, Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, Tinderbox, The Literary Review, and others. She lives in the Pacific Northwest where she works as an optician, coproduces the Bellingham Kitchen Session reading series, and serves as poetry editor of Sweet Tree Review.

Photo: “Silverfish Scales” by Specious Reasons

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