Banshee / Doppleganger


by Marvin Shackelford

The ambulance passes the way we came.
For miles I still hear its wail and moan
beneath the highway’s noise, as if
we’ve joined a cavalry of firemen.
As if we drift in a cavalcade
of ships sounding hopeless depths in the night.

I lay my hand on the gearshift.
You cover mine with yours. Ahead
clouds choke the day’s voice, and in the brief
lull in talk I reckon this life
is framed, always, knowing someone is crashed
and twisted airlessly tight
on some unforgiving, angry stone.

Put your lips to my ear. If I can ask
one thing, it’s your tongue without language.
Song without voice, promise
stripped of words and so silent
I mistake your meaning when you say, Here,
stop and pull over here.

by Marvin Shackelford

Her son looked like me.
Some used the term dead

ringer but never in earshot.
She sat near the back,

slick pew carrying her
heavenward. Her husband

stayed home, took breakfast
and seated himself

no nearer God
than necessary.

He’d learned his lesson.
Each Sunday I took offering

between third and fourth hymns.
Slow stutter of the old

women in the choir
and the aisle a road

empty of carwrecks
but the one. Her mouth

lost traction. Eyes wrapped
around me. I held

the plate out to her,
and she gave with broken

fingers all she had left.
Her face settled on me.

Her hand shook with quick
recognition. So did mine.

Marvin Shackelford is the author of the collections Endless Building (poems) and Tall Tales from the Ladies’ Auxiliary (stories, forthcoming). His work has, or soon will have, appeared in The Kenyon Review, Wigleaf, Bird’s Thumb, Tar River Poetry and elsewhere. He resides in Southern Middle Tennessee, earning a living in agriculture.

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