Self-Portrait with Ouija Board


You are born and the landscape
disappears. The mountains,
the rivers, the birch trees, are gone.

There is only you and the spell
around us. In absence, everything
becomes legible. A planchette drifts

over my left eye. Its convex lens
corrects my vision. But stranger hands
than mine seize its corners. They tug

my sight to shadows that will not settle.
While rocking you to sleep the planchette
moves. In the nightlight’s glow it reads

DA-N-G-E-R. Then hovers over
GOOD LUCK. Gilt illuminates
my mind. The lens focuses.

I see flames hidden in the nursery’s
wiring. A circuit failure, a shorting spark.
We are burning.

Through the planchette I’ve seen our futures.
We are injured, maimed, dead. I unplug
the nightlight and the planchette falls

from my eye. For a moment I see only you.
Asleep in my arms. I count your breaths,
the planchette falls over my eye again.

Annie Wenstrup