Allyson Paty

Where the night speaks of the fire which speaks of the flock,                                           
cue Fishwife onto the porch:

A moon that makes an open dish means rain.
Means smoke that moves close to the ground.
And the swallows when they fly they fly as one.

She says a downpour is a downpour is a downpour: cue action in the gutter.

She says trouble brings trouble brings trouble.

A bird flies in through the window.
Fishwife: Watch for illness.
Flies in and can’t get out.
Fishwife: Watch for death.
An empty chair goes rocking.
Fishwife: Watch your money.
A wishbone hung from the door.
Fishwife: Watch for love.
Don’t make him both your racehorse and your wager.

We who watch watch from the wings
We whose bets begin to draw off our boldness
At the heart of our work is persistence
As long as I withstand I believe I am owed

The fishwife calls on us to make a sound
like a steam whistle with no ship to herald.





This poem is part of a series of poems that use the performance score as a point of departure. With this poem, I was curious to explore how the received wisdom of folkloric superstitions, proverbs, and omen might serve as cues for reading, interpreting, and perhaps shaping one's environment.