OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 2
I was the wife because I was shorter,
which meant I paid for groceries
with my salary from the bakery
where I made cookies. Sweet
to play the role of nurturer,
provider. When the man stained the counter
green with turmeric, I scrubbed
until it was blue and neat. Then,
someone arrived at our door
one night while he was at work.
She – I – was dressed as a witch,
all in white. Come in, I said
and she sat at the cherry table,
declined a cup of tea. The witch
drank vodka neat and preened,
hiding rogue beetles in her handkerchief.
My hair was wild as hers but clean. At first
she had no words for me.
Take the plants from the windows
when you go, she said. And then
I knew I would leave.
Dishonesty wasn’t the goal:
like sorrow, which doubles back on itself, it won’t sit
still. Diagonal rays drink
from the font. Retreat, retreat;
the sand in its dune sweeps
into a taller peak, cold.
You speak with precision, but
read from a stone book. It’s not wrong, but not
a warm place to begin. Begin with the hand
or the heart that beats: the earth
darkens nightly to your delight or surprise.
Comfort is comfort. I stand
and turn in place three times. I do not know
I speak a lie: I’ll always stay with you.