Back to Issue Sixteen.

saturday night



A cream square framed by a white border stamped DEC • 73.
Perspective as flat as a Grandma Moses painting,
my older sister’s head in lower left inaccurately small—

the honey blond grain of one long wing of hair curtaining
the vertical line of her profile, with outsized right hand crabbed
in foreground, the tip of her ring finger obscured by her lips.

When Carol Burnett tugs her ear, she’s telling
her grandmother she’s okay
, my sister said.
My grandmother’s legs enter the frame mid-left,

the pink and cream circle of her knee in floral pajamas
superimposed on the grid of red and green squares behind.
Tentatively reaching into the frame just above,

a lone Christmas tree branch, red ball hanging at the tip.
Against a field of silver lace, gray wallpaper, and beige door,
I’m curled impossibly into a lavender upholstered rocker,

which I almost swear I bought secondhand twenty years later
as the first piece for my apartment in a different city.
Center frame is my younger brother, his arms around the dog.

We all stare off frame to the right at an implied screen,
perhaps at Mary Tyler Moore’s name multiplying,
my mother laughing, Doesn’t she remind you of me?

Or even better, the crescendo of horns and drums
of a CBS Special Presentation, as a rainbow
spirals out at me from a field of black.

James Cihlar is the author of the poetry books Rancho Nostalgia and Undoing, and the chapbooks A Conversation with My Imaginary Daughter and Metaphysical Bailout. His writing has appeared in American Poetry Review, Lambda Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Threepenny Review. His website is

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