nancy flynn


She slides the abalone button snipped
off a beloved sweater, hockey puck
across the blotter. Copies lucky numbers

from a Chinese cookie fortune for a post-mortem
Megabucks. Bathes in ink the bonbon
tin of virgin calligraphy nibs. Tickles her throat

with the words of Aquinas on a cork:
For it is written, that wine makes glad the heart of man.
Spends her last evening emptying

a drawer. Builds a paper clip diorama in the shape
of the Taj Mahal, flying buttress a pewter lotus
bookmark. Spins, last chance Wheel of Fortune,

the circular slide rule she knew how to use,
chemistry in eleventh grade. Tucks behind one ear
the dreamcatcher’s quill and fills the puddle

under her tongue with shells sanded on the black
rock beach near Newport. Mars the corner
of her desk using the blade no longer permitted

on a plane. Scratches a subway token’s Y into the ravenous
hollow of her hand. Embroiders a drawer pull
in the knotted loops which circled her wrists,

Songkran good luck in Thailand. Fingers the ticket
stub, one final time doing the time warp,
The Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight

at the Clinton Street Theatre. Lights then flicks
match after match into the ashtray of a naked woman
pink-glazed above the words, “Florida” and “Watch

Your Butt.” Imagines what will open thanks to keys, skeleton-
bound by a fraying, jaundiced thread. Severs
her head from the snapshot taken at Christmas

when she was still denying and so smiling.
Staples it to a card, the Prayer of St. Francis—
For it is in giving that we receive, and in dying we are born

to eternal life—the priest gave her when she visited
St. Paul’s in lower Manhattan where rescue workers
slept on cots for eight months after the buildings fell.

Her last evening spent. An emptied-out drawer.

(this poem originally appeared in Verseweavers, a publication of the Oregon State Poetry Assocation’s twice-yearly contest winners)

Nancy Flynn says: “I hail from the coal country of northeastern Pennsylvania where somehow, at an early age, I fell in love with words instead of into a sinkhole or the then-polluted Susquehanna River. My writing has received the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and an Oregon Literary Fellowship; poetry chapbooks include The Hours of Us (2007) and Eternity a Coal’s Throw (forthcoming, 2012). A former university administrator, I now live in Portland, Oregon where my writing desk boasts the following: a smooth stone from a black-rock beach near Newport, Oregon; paper clips in the shapes of butterflies, bass and treble clefs, and a Japanese tea house; a green jade Buddha found in a monastery near Chiang Mai, Thailand; and a Roseville water lily vase from 1938 (the year my home was built) filled with fountain pens. In 2004, I happily reclaimed from the realtor in Massachusetts who had it first. More about my writing and publications can be found there.”