Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
print version


By way of illustration, a storm, a hairdo, a punishment,
or the face of my great-aunt in the failing memory
of the few who can snap her cool features into place.

Overheard usage: The old maid, hair cropped unfashionably short
in mannish trousers, how else to describe her but severe.

An edge?

           Or panache?

                                    Like Joan of Arc suited to ride,
her chain mail shimmering, iridescent as a tarpon
lunging from an angler’s tackle, a hook dangling
by a wire.

                                             Is it genetic?

The clean line of my jaw in the blue porch light.
What if I nick your finger, punish you like
a paper cut, or kiss you with desire’s accuracy,
I mean, the way a skater’s blade etching a figure eight
kisses the ice?

                                             Have I taken you too far?

As if to be butch is to be made of mythical perimeters,
and not the sky revealing itself between storms
in sudden naked flashes.

I found my great aunt’s face in a grainy yearbook photo,
absent of restraint, a playful eyebrow raised, a smile so
genteel and at her ear, a blonde helix, stray curl almost
too exceptionally soft for sight.  end

return to top