By Katie Rank
He comes up to her at the bar It’s you I’ve been waiting for your pearls
and tight curls and muted beiges my mother barely speaks. English, she
puts a raisin in the loaf just to trick me I order a tonic with gin we laugh
so the story goes I put you in your car I’m going to marry you I say you
laugh we laugh. When. Then, you leave college and have a child at 20 and
beiges turn to embarrassed reds my mother only speaks to you. Polish, you
smile and nod because this is what you do oh you sweet woman you come
with me to the shoe store downtown and we buy the hideous clogs that
you will keep in the closet untouched. Cream tonic beige white cream tonic.
At the boat dock the time runs out the table is ready you cover yourself with
red wine your cream trousers blood dipped. It’s you I’ve been waiting for.
You’ll need more rice than that, the old woman scoffed.
I track my gas at 25 dollars a visit, playing
stop the pump at a perfect 5x5, something I can
measure, petrol in clumps of fours, twos, months
since I’ve felt your expansion, licking sticky rice
from the pots in the kitchen till we swear off sushi
only to go back to it on our next night off. Tough
kisses under Maine moon, I forget what this kind
of love feels like, licking each other’s fingers of
our own permanence, each month a countdown
to this summer. This sweaty July. Running from
the barn, forgetting that you are allergic to horses
that tomorrow we begin the months again, passing
time with sandwich bread and baking over cups of
lukewarm water. On the carpet, giant fan hums until
evening falls and we drive off, our secret of fullness
I wanted to kiss you so I got in the car and kissed you.
For cold intemperament make a salve of pounded
celery and apply to breasts. Your narrow jaw bone.
Skeleton arms. Still toned, even after halftime
death. I have a boyfriend now, you say. You say my
name too—Cancer may appear after a warm natured
swelling. I want you because you’re 40 but could easily
pass for 20. That look you get when you walk across
the room and your little body moves fast and your feet
pound into the floor. I wake up to realize our love?
Sleep, bodies, car. I smell your perfume. Three years
ago you lost your hair and now it’s beautiful brown
tumbleweed. You are preventable, but seldom curable.
By Judith Ward
My mother wasn’t a liar,
nor was she spiteful or a trickster
(that I know of)
So there may have been some truth
in what she said about the beans.
A city dweller with no beans of my own,
(nor garden to grow them,)
I was dependent, then, at thirty or so
on a mother who lived amid
rural abundance, ankle-deep in soil
She always sent me the first picking
boxed, wrapped in brown paper,
the youngest pods slender, tender,
without hint of inner seed.
Package from postman on early July morning:
within lay beans, aged and tough,
seeds inside big as marbles.
“How could you,” I whined long-distance.
She said nothing at first...
but silence not being her style; it didn’t last.
In astonishment, amusement, disbelief,
she gave the only answer available:
“They must have grown old in the mail,”
That kick is out of this world señorita. Foot pressed to glass elegance becomes you. I wanna jive with you dance with you. Hear truth mix with lies down as you cop a feel up my thighs at the speakeasy. Ride you hear cool jams by you. Just the right mix of sexy and trainwreck are your wine stained teeth.
That push takes me away from you. Shouts of no from you mingle in the smoke-filled air. I wanna climb with you, up ivory towers with you, hit the pavement in torn up burnt up bags of shit. I’m far away from you. Lost affection from you. Crisscrossed wires pulled plug from sex.
And in Spanish:
Esa patada está fuera de este mundo señorita. Pie presionado contra vidrio tú eres elegancia. Querio mover contigo baliar contigo. Oír la verdad mezclar con mentiras mientras me tocas mi pierna en el bar. Querio recorrerte. Oír tu musica brillante. Tu eres la combinación perfecta de sensual y un desastre total con tus dientes manchados de vino.
Ese empujón me lleva lejos de ti. Tus gritadas mezclan con el humo de cigarrillos. Quiero escalar contigo, subir la torre de marfil contigo, golpea el pavimento en desgarrado quemado bolsas de mierda. Estoy lejos de ti. Perdí tu afecto. Hilos entrecruzados sacaban el enchufe del sexo.
Mom said she liked to call having sex
I hushed her and refused to talk anatomy
puzzled over whispers on the floor
Rocky Horror—our Bible and nightlight
back when sleepovers didn’t make me
hunger for sleep
back when young girls turned nocturnal
and piled on top of one another
to test the weight of other bodies
the architecture of limbs
and dared kisses to watch
smacking of lips
your mother’s lingerie didn’t fit well
but we wore it anyway
and paraded our bellies to the night
moon-sick and circling
our new hips
stirring adolescent lust
into tender air alchemy
pulsing and secret
with the hum of young girl magic
for 14 years after forgetting how to sleep
By Annabel Lang
I love you in my arms
where I've carried you since childhood,
You leapt from a tree.
I caught you. We coincide. I've held you
not knowing what it is I hold on to.
What is a sister when there is nothing simple like blood to lie about?
I'm learning fidelity
to language. To trust words
not what words say
as an urn may carry water or ashes but we gather shards
to save men glorious Grecian half-naked
etched black on clay skin
and our bodies may hide
any kinds of bones. We love a face
not thoughts we don't know.
So I will write you love letters and let love be
only the shape of the letters inside
the word love. This way as my arms open
may petals fall under your feet.
summer moon child,
do you remember when our skin
glowed with energy,
with wasteful, bloody, curdled laughter,
when we communed with willows
under the bright green warning sign
of the sky before it cracked?
i remember, and i hope
that when we are both old,
old women, you will let me
hold you when you cry
at stories you have kept close
for so long, and
at stories you have told many times,
still sobbing with mirth
at the absurdity
i hope that summers pass
between yesterday and tomorrow
when we find our voices
together, greeting sun with song
and impressing positivity
into the spine of the universe
so we can stand straighter,
step sweeter, and sleep softer
All black-blue hair
And chiseled lips
Your left shoulder
Intellectually-aesthetically it-girl linked
Your right shoulder
Inhale through the blunt
Exhale away the mirror’s colorful shadows
Your fingers snap
All long brown legs
And slim whittled hips
Your bejeweled wrist
Radiates counter culture cool
Your staccato speech
Punctuated with south side Chicago flashbacks
You are passionate
Your touch rests on me
Your heavily lashed eyes flicker
You are mine, for a beat
Only to dance away again.
today the sun did not set until long after dinnertime, the first drawn-out day of the year. i sat for hours in front of the window and thought about the things we had done during the cold, rainy season of last winter.
how on saturdays, we would stare at vintage nudes, sepia and corners peeling, for inspiration. you especially loved the way the women's bodies were so pliable: limbs cording themselves around the torso. out of wanting this limberness, you stacked foam mats and swept the floors in a yoga studio late nights, alone. you imagined that in your cleaning the grime imparted something precious to you through your hands and your feet.
and how, on sundays, we would sneak into the campus photo lab, and your friends would practice taking nude portraits of us. i tried to be coy about the way posing for those photos made me feel. intoxicated by my own body on display for you, a deep quiet reveling in the shadow cast between my legs.
how, on thursdays after class, we would walk to the Mexican restaurant on the corner and the the waitress would bring us tall margaritas, never able to finish our meal because we would already be drunk halfway through our escebeche y arroz, and decide to cross the street for dessert that we could carry out. you would declare you needed something chocolate, but leave with the strawberry tart. after I had fallen asleep on the couch, you would pick the strawberries off your tart and feed them to your cat.
and how, after the first real chill, autumn's last spider had found its way into the tub. staring at it for long minutes, i killed it with Clorox, watched its legs cord around its body and then unfurl again. i was reminded of the fishing hook you had tattooed on your body after your father died; that first night, after a bottle of wine, when you lifted up your shirt to show me. the blueness of the deep curve, a ribbon of ocean tracing the line of your rib cage around to the place where the two halves of it clasp together under your lungs. the heaving of your breath like the slow tide that carried your father's ashes out to sea.
I sit, after dinner,
and sip cold aquavit from a martini glass
I avoid the idea bustling at my mind's door—
That you will not be There when I return
I remember so much of you,
a sliver of a life,
a little girl's experience in an old woman's presence,
You have always been a Good Person:
kind, compassionate, sturdy in the face of ill-reason
and prejudice, you have taught me
to be Gentle
There you are: my Goodness,
the gleaming light of hope
that every childhood ought to have
and I have been so lucky
to have You