A Journal of Poetry and Kindred Prose

Christine Potter

is a poet and internet broadcaster who lives in the Hudson River Valley in an old house full of guys: her choirmaster/organist husband Ken, and two rock ’em sock ’em tomcats.

Her first book of poems, Zero Degrees At First Light, was published by David Robert Books a few years back; she has a new collection called Sheltering in Place that will be out from Cherry Grove Collections in March 2013.

Christine’s work has appeared in Umbrella before, as well as in The Pedestal, Rattle, and the late, lamented Shit Creek Review.

She is general manager at

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Panthers, Coyotes (for my husband)

Clothes dryer to bedroom, my chin pins down
jeans with zippers too hot to touch, unpaired
socks, and t-shirts—a soap-smelling cotton bomb

to drop on the quilt, sort and fold. You said you’d
do your own laundry, but just not now and that
was twenty years ago, which isn’t so important

or even annoying except in the interim you’ve taught
the cats to chase every moving scrap of fabric:
faded Calvin Klein boxers with waistbands relaxed

as a belly full of tuna casserole, dress shirts finally
free of wasabi soy stains. Our two toms swat
at your feet by night, and claim your garments

by day. This morning you brought in the paper
to show me before I even tossed back the blankets:
panthers sighted here in Rockland County, only

twenty miles from Manhattan, local officials
“taking it seriously.” Last night, clutched
by a nightmare about a gory movie that slipped

into something true, unstoppable, and utterly
of my own creation, I’d forced myself awake in
darkness that felt tragic, and searched for the dear

familiar: first your breath, then the rumination
of a passing train. That was when a coyote howled,
and howled again. I swear his voice—or hers—

was like gulping cold water and swallowing a sliver
of ice. But now I’ll throw in another load, push
the “Normal” button, watch the squirrel splayed

on his back on the bird feeder, cheeks full of seeds,
and answer your call from the car. A squint-blue sky
on our side of the river, you say, but fog dense as snow

over in Westchester, a wonder you’ve seldom known:
the City absent, even cables of the bridge gone blank,
the road beyond leading either north or nowhere.