Tilt – by Lillo Way

He leaves off bashing and banging
at his 1952 Olivetti (which currently
takes the form of a laptop so slender
its last name is Air) and pads silently
to one of three candlesticks directly
in his purview, straightens the taper,
and returns to the scene of his digital

This is the parallelizing of all straight-
sided things. It’s one of the reasons
I love him.

He and I have no inordinate need
to control the lives of others, or even
our own fates, as long as the pictures
are straight, the carpet edge
and floorboards align, and books
are vertical on their shelves.

Such urges never arise in my dreams.
My night anxieties have to do
with escaping a totalitarian regime,
having sex in a broom closet, going onstage
without knowing my lines, remembering
I forgot to feed the dog/mice/children,
but never about the tilting of horizontals
or verticals.

We live in an old house whose walls and floors
have shifted and sunk in a testament
to gravity’s unpredictable consistencies.

The big toe gives the doormat a push,
the pointer finger a wee shove
to the lampshade. And so we proceed,
keeping our household in perfect alignment,
until the day we move out—
supine, feet-first, more or less parallel
to the curving earth.


Lillo Way’s publications include the poetry collection, Lend Me Your Wings, and Dubious Moon which won the Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Contest. Her poems have won the E.E. Cummings Award and a Florida Review Editors’ Prize. Way has received grants from the NEA, NY State Council on the Arts, and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for her choreographic work involving poetry. www.lilloway.com