by Cynthia Atkins
It has been steam cleaned
in 10 states. Slapped by a mother
spat on by a boss. This is how
everything is fine until it is not.
It changed its mind
like umbrellas brought
on all the wrong days.
It wore shoulder pads and burned
a husband with a curling iron.
It called 911. It did what it had to do.
It held your bag of hygiene, oily
perfume, rotten teeth. Joy and pain
live on the same street.
It has an expiration date.
It hung in the closet like a bad check.
It flagged all the pools of blood
and the grief of mothers.
It was a dirge of old wars and vacant
parking lots. It was the place I sat alone
and cried all nightmare long.
It is a junkyard clock
with dog-chewed hands.
It is God mouthing the anthem
I never learned. It gnawed
at the wind shield, made of rain.
It sat in a diner all night long, waiting
for the lord or the guy with a day job
to take his knife home.
This is the lake that lives within the skin,
that lives with an illness that dangles
like a yo-yo on a string. And another body
beget out of mine, long and wide
as the Rio Grande. The body just wants
something loyal and divine,
a dog’s eyelids fluttering in sleep.
Cynthia Atkins is the author of Psyche’s Weathers and In The Event of Full Disclosure, and the forthcoming collection, Still-Life With God. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Apogee, BOMB, Cleaver Magazine, Cultural Weekly, Diode, Florida Review, Flock Lit, Green Mountains Review, Le Zaporogue, Los Angeles Review, North American Review, Rust + Moth, Sweet: A Literary Confection, Tampa Review, and Verse Daily, and have been nominated for Pushcart and Best of The Net. Atkins teaches creative writing at Blue Ridge Community College and lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County VA with her family. See more at www.cynthiaatkins.com.