Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.

— Virginia Woolf


by Clare Paniccia

It was the cat that came to me in a dream,

as if coiled in the foreground of my sight—

a flicker coated in dusk’s cold shards and weighted


with obsidian. Innominate, it shifted into an X

of blackness, its underbelly swollen and full,

curving into my hands the arc of a white fang,


the bone’s wetness a sheen of warning.

Each night the cat padded to the corner

of my eye, a figure shadowed against curtain,


standing at the periphery of my knowing.

I was eleven, then, and still convinced that there

was no other muscle but the heart—a tight fist


of surety so simple in its making it could not

perceive—could not color—the fraught edges

of my mother’s voice as it lilted from the kitchen,


the room where she accused my father

of sleeping with another woman—could not

color my neighbor who stood with his gun pointed


toward the Diaz’s front window, or the wolf

that waited at the edge of our yard. I named

these moments in haze, calling them down into


dirt, their little deaths dissolving into carbon

and ash—turned the radio to its highest volume

to hinder any echo. My veil was a sanctuary of lace


woven and hinged against the brow, the bridle

of my ignorance figuring a visor above my cheek,

pointing just ahead to the blanket’s fold, the twilit


calm, where I might have rested in dream’s soft

static; but, there, my visitor tugged at thread,

the dull claw boring into the fold of mercy


a peephole through which the street sucked

its hard angle, my neighbor laughing as he wiped

the barrel of his anger, gesturing outward again


and again until his face was a silo

of venom, shifting into my mother, my father’s

faults—weaving a beast from the forked shadow:


time’s dense premonition caught in a green-eyed

fissure—the space between sleep and waking—

where the cat dragged from its den a mouse head,


a mirror, as if to say look here and face this ruin.




CLARE PANICCIA was born and raised in upstate New York and is currently a first-year PhD student in poetry at Oklahoma State University. In 2015 she was a finalist for both the Janet McCabe and Slippery Elm poetry prizes, and her work has been published in or is forthcoming from Best New Poets 2015, Slippery Elm Literary Journal, Ruminate Magazine, and elsewhere.


The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.

—Cervantes, Don Quixote

© 2016 The Indianola Review