Arts featured

Distraction poem, by Alice Burdick

Distraction poem

I was thinking about bathtubs,
because I was in one, and then
a video of crows came on. They
slid down a Russian roof.
The phone rang
but it wasn’t for me.
I forgot about the bathtubs,
and tried to read my own handwriting
until the cat jumped on the shelf,
knocked off a sweater
and some earrings — athletic jerk.
The paper slid to the floor,
and I checked to see how many people like me
or don’t, according to a thumbs-up icon.
Some old cells inside my body shouted
for redress, in memory of years
of shunning, and petitioned the community
for some respect, however false.
My skin, meanwhile, continued
to shed at a visible and molecular
level, and the other cat banged
on a closed door, leaving my insecurity
to answer for rolled-back eyeballs.
The kids came home and started yelling,
each shriek translating to “Check your ego!
Check your ego!” Hours later I reached through
the bathtub’s cold water to let it all drain out.



Alice Burdick lives in Mahone Bay with her family. She is co-owner of Lexicon Books, an independent bookstore in Lunenburg.

I found Distraction poem in Burdick’s latest poetry collection, book of short sentences, published by Mansfield Press. It’s full of surprises. I borrowed my copy from the library, but I am heading out to Bookmark soon to get my own, because it is so good.

I remember that video.

Distraction poem is reproduced courtesy of Alice Burdick.

Featured image, Girl in bathtub, an installation by Saul Steinberg, 1949.


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