We’re in the grocery store and the boy behind the
meat counter is looking at you. Blond boy with
plastic gloves of rudimentary cleanness, the kind
that doesn’t go far. He’s got dried blood ringing his
elbow and a sadness in his eyes you’ll want to know
about. We’re in the grocery store and the man with
red hands smells oranges while he looks at you. He
squeezes peaches until they fall apart, fleshy and wet
on his pants, pooled on the linoleum, sweet stain of
fluorescence. We’re in the grocery store, or I’ve got
you on the hood of the car. I’ve got you in the back
seat with your hands tied behind you. You’re on
your face, whining about the taste of leather again. A
man stands behind you in line. He flips through
magazines and he catches your eye, black hair
tucked behind his ear, his face a memory of
childhood. A man walks into the produce aisle,
black hair and black boots and black gaze. He picks
tomatoes without looking at them. His hands
become claws, become hands again, rooted in fruit,
shaking with what could be rage. And you turn like
you like him, like his staring at you. Lights dim,
focus into spotlight bright on both your faces. His
smile never ends. He lays you down, or sits you
under that lamp. He’s a magician, and you’re what
he’s sawing in half. The boy behind the meat counter
is clapping his cellophaned hands.
This selection comes from the collection What Weaponry, available from Black Lawrence Press. Order your copy here. Our curator for December is Jessica Rae Bergamino.
Elizabeth J. Colen is most recently the author of What Weaponry, a novel in prose poems. Other books include poetry collections Money for Sunsets (Lambda Literary Award finalist in 2011) and Waiting Up for the End of the World: Conspiracies, flash fiction collection Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake, long poem / lyric essay hybrid The Green Condition, fiction collaboration Your Sick, and the forthcoming fiction collaboration True Ash. Nonfiction editor at Tupelo Press and freelance editor/manuscript consultant, she teaches at Western Washington University.
Jessica Rae Bergamino is the author of UNMANNED, forthcoming from Noemi Press, as well as the chapbooks The Desiring Object or Voyager Two Explains to the Gathering of Stars How She Came to Glow Among Them (Sundress Publications), The Mermaid Singing (dancing girl press), and Blue in All Things: a Ghost Story (dancing girl press). Individual poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Third Coast, Black Warrior Review, Colorado Review, and Southern Humanities Review. She is a doctoral student in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Utah, where she serves as Reviews Editor for Quarterly West.
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