How She Loved Me
Before his suicide, my father gave my mother
two Pointillist landscapes. Flowers were rushes
of color, marred dirty bodies, bees dovetailed
to where soft and terrible is the same pithy center.
Before his suicide, she wanted his apology pressed
onto her heart like an iris. On it she wanted him
to write the words fuckup, spindrift, she wanted
learn to forgive. On my twelfth birthday, instead
of teaching me how a man loves a woman, she gave
me a copy of Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus.
On my thirteenth, a book about venereal disease.
Penises luscious with herpes sores perched across
the pages, wet plucked birds. She said, no boy
could touch me until he dropped his pants
in front of her, so I’d learn to hide what I loved,
so I’d learn to want her apology pressed onto
my heart like a spray of oleander, on it the words
sunder, daughter, bitter indictment, something to hold
at the end of my sorrow: sorry he left us without flowers.
Sorry he’s never coming back.
Sara Henning is the author of the full-length collection of poetry A Sweeter Water (2013), as well as a chapbook, To Speak of Dahlias (2012). Her poetry, fiction, interviews and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as Willow Springs, Bombay Gin and the Crab Orchard Review. Currently a doctoral student in English and Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota, she serves as Managing Editor for The South Dakota Review.
This week’s Wardrobe Best Dressed was selected by Erin Elizabeth Smith. Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the author of two full-length collections, The Fear of Being Found (Three Candles Press 2008) and The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake Press 2011). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American, 32 Poems, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Tusculum Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She teaches a bit of everything in the English Department at the University of Tennessee and serves as the managing editor of Sundress Publications and Stirring.