Joel Solonche

The Ceiling

It is one sixty-fourth of a chessboard that isn’t there.
I am the king of the white square the size of a room.

It is a sky without birds, except for the ones I remember.
It is a sky without clouds, except for the ones I remember.

It is the skeleton of the sky.
It is the ice cap at the arctic attic of the house.

It is the screen on which movies are played.
These are the movies that star all the family dead.

It is the white satin lining of the coffin lid.
This is the lid that closes every night upon our lids.

It is the last sky most of us will ever see.
Darkly will we see it through a painless fog.

It is the polar route to paradise.
It is the headroom of hell.

Joel Solonche is co-author (with wife Joan I. Siegel) of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). His poems have appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including The American Scholar, The New Criterion, The Literary Review, Rattle, The Cumberland Poetry Review, Poet Lore, Poetry East, The Atlanta Review and Salmagundi, as well as several anthologies. He teaches at the State University of New York-Orange in Middletown, New York.