Cartoons color them
white and I wonder why.
I’ve never seen one. The temperature
near the oven drops
while the smell of gardenia blooming
clouds the kitchen. Is Grandma
here? I wonder
why she rarely visits. Maybe
what’s left of her is the cream
risen from a used body, only
enough to momentarily sweeten
the coffee carried into the basement
to check out that weird noise.
Small towns don’t know what cities give back
by erasure: names, complicated pasts, the pinched
faces of exes. At most, in winter, a neighbor
might tip his flannel cap as you pass in the snow
that’s working hard to cover both your tracks.
Curled as a comma
in bed, I want to be stretched
out like a sentence,
brought to a full stop
by our exclamations, kissed
like an ellipsis.
– after a photograph by Sally Mann
She’s got the pose down, born to it, right arm
bent cross-body, dark eyes underlined like
a long night, defiant. Wild hair water-
falling over one eye, skin tanned from long
days outdoors in sleeveless dresses she will
soon outgrow, creature triangulated
between the girl turned to a fantasy,
the boy on stilts behind her, the woman
on the other side of the lens. Left hand
wise, she signifies: independent, ex-
pert at self-protection, immolation:
there is smoke here, make no mistake, and fire.
No fool would dare to ask her for a match.
She makes her rounds, likes to practice
ambush. I come in sneaky, wiggle pheasant feathers
around the corner, tease so I can watch the black hole appear
in a misleading golden field, domestic
turned rabid. Keep your eyes open. You’ll see it
at the ornate bar as you reach for your smokes, hand
so close his hazel orbs become the glassy black
of sharks. Grab your purse in one swift motion, turn
from damp lips retracting. It doesn’t even matter
if his canines aren’t that sharp.
Kasandra Larsen has poetry most recently in Stoneboat Literary Journal, Literary Juice, Flumes Literary Journal, and Stonecoast Review. Her manuscript, CONSTRUCTION, was a finalist for the Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry, and her chapbook, STELLAR TELEGRAM, won the 2009 Sheltering Pines Press Chapbook Award. In Best New Poets 2012, and nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, she works as an accountant for the Providence Public Library.