Morning is a burned thing, Louise.
Spoiled like a shuttered house.
Paper everywhere-- under the beds,
in the dresser, floating
the pale skin of soup.
You make a cage of your fingers
to keep out light. Chicken bones
to keep out the dead.. Grey
where its all wearing at the ends.
Your braids still tied in a V
when the dark comes to you like a cat.
A long hallway. A girl in pink
sateen against a backdrop of stars.
When you shut all the latches,
shut your eyes. A little gin, Louise.
Make one turn, then another.
On Wednesday, there’s a parade and a broken arm. A woman tangled in the clotheslines, her blue dress dragged across three counties. I’m frayed, favored. My belly blood dark and you with your made up name, pressing your fingers against me like a bell. Debris gathers on the porch where we separate the yolks from eggs like villains. Like two girls in a movie about the devil. All sorts of monsters in the machinery, waiting with their blades and red hair. My letters to you are small, quartered and hidden beneath the floorboards. This grid of fields inhabited by rusted mailboxes and pretty spinsters. When the salesman comes from Wichita, when the horses have all run off, I will speak to you in my milk voice.
I will know all the right words.
the knife game
You see the vowels are slightly off. Slightly burnt. In a dream, I'm waiting for someone to pick me up. I'm waiting for a red ford with a broken steering wheel. I've killed the bride. I didn't meant to. She was smaller than me. Had several tiny blue sleeping pills and a lisp. Silver, she'd say, sliver. Something dark swimming toward me in the house. Like the game, every third girl moving to the next chair. We're all haunted by machines, a strange metallic ache settling in my wrists. A woman in the liquor store asks: are you okay, is something wrong? I have several bottles of tequila beneath my dress. A tiny door beneath my sternum, a peep show girl. She looks kind of you’re your wife , before the accident. Before the hatpins and black gloves. I get used to your thumb in my mouth. This pitch of touch.
kristy bowen is the author of the fever almanac (Ghost Road Press, 2006) and the chapbook feign (New Michigan Press, forthcoming). Her second full-length project, in the bird museum, is due out from Dusie Press in late 2007. She lives in Chicago, where she edits the online litzine wicked alice and runs dancing girl press.