r a d i o d r e a m
E L I Z A B E T H S C A N L O N
Grandmother (must we?) again with her apple-seed rosary
& police scanner radio in the rose-colored
room, the day's late sun on the wall half cast upon her
rocking chair: she is rocking, listening, bead hand dial hand
receiving transmitting emergency frequencies, no use for evening
news, wants the source, in her secret heart imagines
herself rising from the chair to herald
warnings to the neighborhood. Listens to the calls
each night sent out to the fraternal order -
the calls to which it is their duty to respond she listens
to the cryptic numbered reports of damage
people do to one another, of dangers from which they need
saving she says the same words each night
and maybe expects a different response. Maybe expects
a response. She says, O that's a shame.
She says, can you imagine? She says, heavens-
as if any heaven will alter these events,
as if any of it were personal. She speaks to the open air
between rounds until climbing to bed,
radio on, familiar perils lulling her stilled tongue.
Her breath slows to the wide rate of tides
while a fire at the whiskey plant unfurls
flaring streamers seen for miles, to be seen in clips
at six of the peeling Four Roses circled in flame, God,
it is beauty. To look on it and know is to burn.
She rolls to the right to feel her cheek cooled,
the sirens announce an end, a good fight,
her eyes flicker their rapid-eye-movement,
and as the men with their hoses and axes ascend
a black-and-white girl sings along to the broadcast.