Scantily Clad Press, 2009
Thank you to the editors of the following journals in which many of these poems first appeared: Tuesday Shorts, Six Sentences, Tulip, decomP magazinE, PANK, Red Peter, and Dogzplot.
I ate a slice of orange today that tasted like Grandma’s wine made from a magic potion of flowers—maybe marigolds and tulips, dandelions and chrysanthemums, or for all I know a ten-ton toad’s nose, sloth snot, egrets’ regrets. I tasted love, years lived by those vines fermenting fruits fat beneath the sun, grapes squished between tall women’s toes sprouting stained yellow petals saturated juicy red and looking like bloody floral sandals.
Once upon a train Kate eyed John in the meal car and, because he looked lonely, invited herself to a bite of his blueberry pie. It tasted like other people’s smoke. After, she invited him to buy her Ketel after dirty Ketel until she was tired of eating bleu-cheese stuffed olives, at which point she invited him to race her to her room: “Ready? Go!” Smoke trailed them like a duckling. Finishing first, on top, she got off. It was like this that they lived happily for several days, sharing bowls of flakes with blueberries for breakfast, drinking blueberry champagne, eating blueberry-drizzled loins and flanks of pork and steak.
Croquet? Diamond Frost Euphorbia, Creeping Jenny, Zinnia, and Nemesia got together in May to play croquet the way Begonia said she and Pansyâ€™d played one day with Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, before Forget-Me-Not got mad and busted her mallet in two.
Dandelions Why do you hate me, boy? She stands and walks away, appearing unmoving in their never-ending field. The sun glares off a yellow ribbon around the bottom of her braid. The ribbon smokes. The ends of her hair catch fire that snakes to her scalp, and her whole face glows. She turns and reaches for the boy with fingertips that strike like lit matches. Her cheeks explode. Her forearms blast off like fire batons. Her charred sockets stare down at her torso that turns to ash then blows away. There is nothing left but her crumbling legs, the glowing embers of her calves feet toes. It begins to rain. She sizzles into the earth. All that remains are her white teeth and the low bows of the dents de lion beneath the weights of wet and breeze.
Queen Hibiscus Sizzling vapors steam on our upturned faces; sliding down slick trunks with their knees splayed open, loin-clothed men cut coconuts from wet palm fronds. Gleaming machetes—juggled, caught—triumphantly slice through drumbeats; throbbing echoes churn with the ocean’s surf as crashing waves recede from the surge of sultry, animate bodies. We are water. We are the rock cliffs formed by years endured, made delicate by each other’s pounding hips. We’re thrusting but never trusting, eager to offer all our eyes; we sigh as she struts on stage and synchs her song with glistening lips and purple tongue that slips through ivory teeth and spirals into a promise.
Beneath mosquito netting I imagine we are a camel bride in a shower of white butterflies, making our way down porch stairs, through lemon trees, to orange grove. The butterflies flap frenzied beyond our netting, crash and fall with cracked, split wings. Honey bees hover from orange blossoms to hives, from atop those small white petals to the gaping mouths of their hives, from crumpled butterfliesâ€™ bodies, back to their hives. I stare as Aster stares, and I feel I have become a thistle falling from an old manâ€™s pocket, the stomach of a hummingbird feeding on nectar, a yellow bird on the lip of a carved canoe, like my lungs will never stop. I am bigger, getting big as a watermelon in the belly of a mother who will one day birth me into human form, big as three-year-old triplets whose hair will one day touch the backs of their knees, big as a six-foot-seven-inch professional lover of hunchbacks, big as a hot air balloon, a garden of green glass, a sky full of rainbows cresting over Mount Twohearted. Big as Aster Grande, whoâ€™s older than a century and pokes one foot from beneath our netting to crush a fallen butterfly with a broken wing that quivers in my shadow bigger than the sun.
Anechka Rybalsky More than anything, Jennifer wants her balloon to float all the way to Russia, which, she knows, will take a long time. Hopefully someone will find her note and know what to do with it. Before America, Jennifer lived in Moscow. She dreams of returning one day in order to find the mother who left her. “Okay, everyone,” Mrs. Gall says, “let go!” Inside Jennifer’s pink balloon, her handwritten note is supposed to read: My name is Jennifer Peterson. I want to be your pen pal. Please write soon. Instead, hers reads: My name was Anechka Rybalsky. I live in Ames, Iowa with a man and woman who have a baby boy of their own now. Please come for me and bring me home. When Mrs. Gall says, “You too, Jennifer,” Anechka Rybalsky closes her eyes to her classmates’ laughter, raises both arms, and releases, one fingertip at a time.
You Are the Weeper and I Am the Grower Weeping has never been useful except for those who do it well. But you know this, for you are the weeper and I am the grower. Do you remember our trip to Grandeâ€™s Groves and the picnic I made and how it fell into Big River as we crossed? The look on your face made the baby cry. Then you took her away to the weeping place because she was so good at it. That was when I began to grow my hair. Now it is long past my waist. I have no joy for it anymore. You have made a career of your tears, a living off my locks. Soon you will come for it with gleaming shears upheld. This time, I will not let you.
Easter Monday Delivered by a boy in muddy cleats: a dozen chocolate-flavored dental dams. (For forty days Ann swore off sex and sweets; Cecile had slammed the door and said, “Goddamn!”) For forty nights, alone, Ann hasn’t sinned; despite her fears of being crucified, she grabs him by his belt and pulls him in before she has a chance to be denied. She kisses him on his right hip; he leans his muddy knees against her tiny neck and groans and thrusts in just the way she means until it’s time to take his pants and suck his dick like Lady Luck’s on both their sides and Father Time wants them to fuck, abides.
July in Cincinnati In sleep, I hear your wristclock click, your icicle toes tip carpet particles, your scuffed slippers shuffle into the kitchen, hear the Frigidaire door pop and release, a tray crack, shards erupting, melting, on my mango-skin pink and bamboo-shoot green Formica floor. Next thing I know, you’re carveboarding loops and swirls around my oval heart on royal-blue Egyptian cotton bedsheets of ice; you’re running cold, wet lips down my neck, trailing an ice cube along my veins with the tip-of-your-iceberg tongue. I wake tasting last night’s pint-sized bites of double fudge chunk and butter pecan, shared during National Geographic videos from the Public Library of Hamilton County: “Ocean Drifters,” “Rain Forest,” thinking, this must be what it feels like to be icing frosted on the cake.
Molly Gaudry edits Willows Wept Review and Willows Wept Press, co-edits Twelve Stories, and is an associate editor for Keyhole Magazine. Find her online at http://mollygaudry.blogspot.com.