What Seems Like a Nightgown by Rich Ives

At first the dog liked to crunch on the snails, but soon she would no longer have anything to do with them. In the bathtub they multiplied at an alarming rate. None of this had anything to do with radio waves. Something palpable had guaranteed my absence.

This here reticence ain’t normal, Missy, said Mother, by cell-phone, searching fanatically for real fanatics, a perfectly respectable deprecator. If I’ve been amended, I’ll just be the nice girl taking the picture of withholdings with a disposable camera. I seem to be tooling along without any sense of what to do with my assets. I can’t find the place where my abilities start.

I guess I’m something I’ll have to teach before I learn it, and it’s always late at night when you realize you know nothing about milking. Write that down, I said to everything she said. Don’t trust your memory or your momentary clarity of focus.

If it really happened this way, it was because the window was open, and I couldn’t accept the presence of the floating veterinarian. None of this had anything to do with Down’s Syndrome, but I could not speak clearly enough to the professional. I’ve never before been so eternally limited, I said to my one after another.

What seems like a nightgown is thinner now and may be a visitation. Perhaps I was the result of an open window, and beyond this weathered landmark even an overnight case becomes romantic.

Every leaf-strewn pool, every vine-covered walkway.

I might appear perky, but I’m actually sleeping in the warmth of several unlikelihoods.

A drop and then another drop. If I’m saying the right things, then I must have put them in the wrong place.

Why do I have a need to explain myself to professional men (I’ve never been able to sleep with the window open)?

If later on the dog had puppies and they ate up all the snails, it wasn’t a reflection on the absence of radio waves. Radio waves can be absent from anyplace they want. I, however, prefer to think about professional men when multiplying.


About the Author

Rich Ives lives on Camano Island in Puget Sound. He has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Dublin Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is a winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and has been nominated twice for the Best of the Web, three times for Best of the Net and six times for The Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. Tunneling to the Moon, a book of days with a work for each day of the year, is available from Silenced Press, Sharpen, a fiction chapbook, is available form Newer York Press, and Light from a Small Brown Bird, a book of poems, is available from Bitter Oleander Press. He is also the winner of the What Books Press Fiction Competition, and his story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, is now available.