In Our Living Room
He dared not touch me where the dragons curled
their woven tails of sapphire and flame
on the old rug I gave a secret name
and treasured as my safe small childhood world.
By crooked couch, cat-riddled chairs, I pearled
curved claws with whitest marbles, daily game
as though I were intent with shooter’s aim
to make them slowly roll where long tongues swirled.
I knew he watched; I knew he hungered so
for me to leave my dragons, let him be
my god so he could make me go below
with him to where no one would ever see.
I stayed as sunlight sheltered me in grace
and kissed the tears on every glowing face.
Katharyn Howd Machan, author of 39 collections of poetry (most recently A Slow Bottle of Wine, winner of the 2019 Jessie Bryce Niles Chapbook Competition) has lived in Ithaca, New York, since 1975 and has taught Writing at Ithaca College since 1977. After many years of coordinating the Ithaca Community Poets and directing the national Feminist Women’s Writing Workshops, Inc., she was selected to be Tompkins County’s first poet laureate. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies, textbooks, and stage productions, and she has edited three thematic anthologies, most recently a tribute collection celebrating the inspiration of Adrienne Rich.