Image by Louise Dickinson-Brown
By Lewis Turco
At first one might take it
merely for another mathom:
a useless treasure such as may be found
in a littered attic or lost
within a dim closet, toward the back —
star-shaped, made of sticks, wrapped
in thread-ends, knotted and tangled,
of many textures, thicknesses, colors.
There is a small crossbar of wood
glued by an end to the star's center, and
held to the rod, at right
angles, another rod — a leg
on which, together with a starpoint, it
stands upright. If you address it
on the stairs where often it lurks, it will
tell its name, the tattered
threads trembling, and then laugh like dry
leaves rustling. Look for Odradek and it
will be absent for as long as
you remember. But in the fall, perhaps,
a solemn wind wrapping
the eaves, you will climb dusty stairs
into the garret, looking for — you know
not what: A sheet of paper, sere
at the edges, on which your father wrote;
a clock with a painted
face, time run out of it. And there,
behind a chest, near the dry carcass of
a moth, a fly, Odradek will
stand raveling. You will ask, "Where have you
been?" But it will stand mute,
spindling silence, draggling shadow.
You will shrug at last in the chill, droning
afternoon, begin to rummage.
When you look up, Odradek will have gone.
From an unpublished manuscript, A Book of Beasts, poems by Lewis Turco, illustrations by Louise Dickinson-Brown; the poems may be found in Fearful Pleasures: The Complete Poems of Lewis Turco 1959-2007, Scottsdale, AZ: www.StarCloudPress.com, 2007. ISBN 978-1-932842-19-7, cloth; ISBN 978-1-932842-20-3, paper. Also available in a Kindle edition.