Nancy Murphy / Writer

writings and performances by Nancy Murphy

Year of the Snake


some nights when they sleep

he enters the room

comes between them in the bed

there is space enough,

he slides into the warm sheets

slithers over to her side

wraps around her and gently

presses her skin squeezes

the life from her,

threatens her with disaster.


she thinks this is sexy

she has no idea.


the snake stays the night wanting

her dreams, she opens her eyes

early morning   feels around

for something vaguely

unfinished

the way night stories can be,

but he is gone pulled back

to his own bed

his own woman

her thick honey hair and soft hips

waiting, wanting to bear

children, he has

made his choices, he has

spoken his vows.


let’s meet for coffee he says,

that cafe in the hills she says

but they never do.


she rolls onto her side

now listens for the alarm,

when it sings she reaches

her entire body across

the mountain of her man,

she stays there as he

awakens encircles her

she holds on to him

for dear life.


Altadena Poetry Review: Anthology 2017 


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Summers of College

 

In summers of college I carried

trays of food or two coffee cups

in one hand or four platters

up my arm. A short polyester tan

colored uniform melted

to my newly bloomed body as I pinballed

around the packed Pennsylvania diner

from table to minestrone soup

to rice pudding, and finally

to the narrow opening of counter

where the club sandwich platters

appeared with young Greek

cooks holding on to one end only

releasing when I made eye

contact, wolves hungry for American

girls. Those days I blushed easily

but no one noticed, the kitchen

was always steaming, the heat

made us all a little uncivilized.

 

Sitting at the counter Eddie watched

me as I poured his coffee, called me

college girl, tried to tease a smile.

His truck driver compact body, black

curly hair and warm browns

for eyes, a slight chip on a front

tooth. He knew it

was a summer thing, picking me

up in his car the size of Montana

taking me nowhere and everywhere.

The slide into heat and sweetness like

the slowest quicksand. He knew

there is a time and there is a place

for some things and they don’t

go beyond that, as if surrounded

by barbed wire, electrified. He knew

he would not be visiting me

in the fall at the liberal

arts college in upstate NY.

I sensed he was right but argued

anyway, like a child that just has

to ask. But anything

less seemed cruel.

 

Altadena Poetry Review: Anthology 2018

 

 

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airport saturday night 7:45 pm

 

like a hospital waiting room, airport departure wings are full of

small talk and long silences and what sits underneath.  I see

parents sitting on either side of me at the gate

philadelphia, back when you could do that kind of thing

i always protested

they always insisted.

 

now I follow my honey blonde college girl around

bradley international terminal, clinging to the

seconds before she succumbs to security,

asking questions that don’t matter with urgency

do you have something to read?

she raises her hand slightly to stop me, blinks affirmatively.

 

we’ve already said as much as could be said

considering. she is the age when I started to

know myself. I remember so well I think

she is me, when she lets me into her worries

I remember too well: we share the same nervous system,

I feel her burdens like they are my own

mostly I am relieved she trusts me again,

I am redeemed after the silent years, the secret

years, the scary years.

 

north gate now, I let her release me first from

our embrace, our parting words stumble out jaggedly

whatagreatvisitgoodluckyeahitwasmomwitheverythingimsoproudofyouthankyoucallmewhenyouiwilliwillarrive

then I watch as she moves forward into the jaws

of the larger world,  she doesn’t turn back

until the last second, knows I wait for this

final crumb–the one who leaves has all the power–

she raises her hand birdlike and smiles without teeth, but her eyes dance

when I play my part as the pursuing suitor waving with all of me,

I watch the hem of her trench coat follow her around the corner.

 

Altadena Poetry Review: Anthology 2017

 

 

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