katherine ziobro

diving bell dream

after your midnight episode,

I cannot shut off the feedback-punch of certain phrases

you spitted at me. you sleep to my left, and all the while

I am suspicious that the ceiling fan could bloom at any moment,

fall from above, and slice you up. it is at this hour when the diving bell

emerges from the dark corner of the room.


the steel is stained and crusted, there is smell of musk and brine,

a yellow light is there in a small port window. in shadow puppets

on the glass I see familiar

and unfamiliar silhouettes:


the wild and wooden look on my mother’s face

when I missed curfews, a spindle-foot gob,

the man with the white beard who contemplated

the suicide prevention poster on the subway wall,

a keyhole. the time I looked in the casket,

a melted finger, when the woman, Katie,

on the elevator asked me if her boyfriend was real, sex

in a dodge caravan, a crusted pallet-knife-necro-blade,

collisions of hands on bodies, metal on flesh.

the blind man Brian who bought me a drink

while you were an arms’ length away-

you didn’t say a thing to him or anyone.

plants unfolding in the conservatory at dawn.

the silhouettes retreat and the diving bell sinks slowly through the carpet.


and I rub my face, caught in the urge to follow it down.

it is anchored to the sunrise, and the diving bell peels back

layers of morning in nectarine ribbons. I want so severely to follow it

and separate from my sleeping self [you sweat in your sleep].

the carpet in the corner is damp now.


I wait for the moon to fully pivot,

wait to be drowned in the bed.

I know you will wake up and bog me down

with something heavy,

the nearest heavy thing.


The old woman never felt any

of the needles or the knives,

pushed in when she sat on the pews,

arranged in all the right patterns so

she still resembled herself, stretched

over the mannequin.


She never felt how all the chemistry bonded

to preserve her in these moments,

the ones where the casket was full

of someone too young, very very young, but of course

much younger than herself on the mount,

incense and rites seeping under the skin,

traced runes on the carved prop.


But I never felt she was old,

or old enough to use rigormortis,

to prevent breaking down.

I only ever felt in those moments,

that her self-taxidermy was warranted,

because I also know her at the times

when she does feel the needles,

takes one out,

and lets it bleed.

the diorama room: special skills​

he was called in to paint the adirondacks on a curve,

mountain peaks under florescent lights, concave lake, mostly green,

a gesture at blue. he has told me, he knows, how to stage the fox and deer

in the most natural of postures, so the breaths can be seen pulsing the fur.

watch when the breaths accelerate.


knows where to put the needle, he knows the thickness of the glass,

what can be seen from a child’s line of sight. tells me

it’s glycerin perspiration on the bear’s muzzle. best to tilt

the leaves this way, he bends the wire inward,

and the rabbit is almost real.


among the dioramas, I can spot the dead thing.

posed at the coffee table barefoot, handing me a dirty cup, believable.