Penal Cistern Lightning Throne


My skin sack was taken to the Hall of Pictures

in the Capitol. My Zipps seemed made

to slide across the marble floor. Though

careful careful of my balance. So walked

slow as the other kids flew by. Slow

and serious skater. Past the paintings

and the statues of steel men in bowler

hats. Past the light bodies of young men

reaching, naked, snake bodies curled

around their calves. I paused to lay

my hands and forehead on and was told

Stop. A lake in the floor. A cistern.

We filled it with pennies, which were

wishes. Just one though. Not to be

greedy. Just one wish for myself I was



All the way through the white

halls to where the rooms opened out.

And at the far end, alone on the wall,

black and white, like a newspaper

photo on a canvas: a throne powered

by lightning. Leather belts

like my father wore to work. But thicker.

And for the wrists and forehead.

At the center of the throne: a strap

like our bus driver unhooked

when he’d pull the yellow chariot over

to separate the young gladiators

huddled over me. So the body doesn’t bolt.

And on top, a shining mixing bowl, welcome

side down. Which we were told was the crown


that held the lightning in.

that held the lightning in.

Gabrielle Calvocoressi is the author of Rocket Fantastic.

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