Carolyn Zukowski lives in Český Krumlov, Czech Republic, where she edits her
online journal, The Literary Bohemian.

Time Share

One day, what we feared most happened.
Two time shares overlapped.
Somebody's wrong fill-in-the-blank.

We arrived, with our troupes of children.
Ours smiled. Theirs stood, moon-eyed, strange.
I wondered, Who gets the master bedroom?

My husband suggested drawing straws,
but since there were none, a deck of cards
was eased out of the other father's luggage.

Their children sat quietly under the oak,
while ours played hangman in the dirt.
We spread out a blanket and cut the deck.

Oh the barking dogs and mourning doves.
Oh the curtained windows of the curious.
Oh the dashed hopes of the vanquished.

The losers drive home: a quiet affair
to be sweetened by Dairy Queen, or
a matinee at the neighbourhood theatre.


A book left open at page 67:
this is the age your child
will forgive and forget.


Clouds collide with a full moon:
the church bells will ring
louder and clearer.


The laundry machine won't spin:
you will learn to trust someone
with your sullied past.


A crushed snail shell in the drive:
your home will require


The sharpened pencil breaks:
your words will flow more easily
if left unwritten.


A tire bursts far from home:
your shoes will find
ruin and sympathy.


The meadow is weed-wild, unruly:
your cattle will follow the path
of least resistance.


It rains for forty days and nights:
you will betray the insurance man
and gag the cockerel.


An unexpected guest arrives:
you will give up your bed
and hide your vices.


The tea leaves refuse to settle:
you will become familiar
with austerity.


The train conductor weeps.
You will get off at the next stop
and find inspiration.

From Mrs. Darwin's Notebook, December

From our breakfast window,
I see a pair of happy fugitives.

Black-caps. Our bird feeder
has broken their migration,

sharpened their beaks
into mooching tools.

Their plumage becomes them --
clipped and rounded

for the shorter haul.
They've aborted flight

to where fruit grows,
and choose to weather

our lean gardens,
and finally, adapt.

Here, their mated signatures
in the snow.

Bed, Bath & Beyond

Our windfall inheritance leads us down the aisle
of duvet sets, Egyptian cotton, sateen bolsters
of memory foam. Your rough hands are ignorant
of thread count. I talk to sales while you read aloud

the ecological packaging: Tencel sheets are made
from the wood pulp of Eucalyptus trees. A strong
fibre that won't kick you out of bed for eating crackers
or watching the late show, even with headphones.
Fade resistant. Soft and smooth, but never flaccid,
it provides moisture control when you're sweating
college tuition fees for your ungrateful youngest.

Darling, I could pound you for not understanding
the difference between satin and sateen, between
sage and green. And that bolsters are just for show.

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