This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from My Tarantella by Jennifer Martelli, released by Bordighera Press in 2018.
A mouth just bloodied.
—Sylvia Plath, “Poppies in July”
A year ago this summer, I grew
Genovese basil in a fake clay pot I’d move around my home to follow
the arc of direct sunlight. I’ve thought of Kitty Genovese for a long
time: her mouth.
How easy it is to open a mouth
anywhere, to split it & split it. I can’t love what I don’t fear.
For my “Plath’s ‘Poppies in July’ Party,” I bought fake rubies shaped
wore a red skirt, hung lanterns
from the maples in my backyard. The skirt=a poppy,
the lanterns=love, the pear-shape=eyes or a womb. The rubies?
The first time I was slapped in the mouth.
A year ago this summer, I saw
a man wearing a silk-screen t-shirt: Trump that bitch.
Hillary’s mouth was a red slash.
I saw a woman wearing a silk-screen t-shirt: Trump that bitch. So I
knew it was over.
After the solstice or before the equinox.
I thought of Kitty so hard, I was afraid she would manifest, smiling—
in the dark corner of my laundry room, from my closet hook where
I thought of her so deeply, it was like sex, far up & slow &
violent. And then I became unafraid.
I knew she was gone.
This is how the Queen of Night tulips toppled: first, their lips
let loose the dark petals:
they puddled like a silk gown. Then from the dug-up dirt,
grow four rock cairns, high as my knee: beach stones gray
with white veins stacked.
I still can’t love what I don’t fear.
Even though I’m throwing a party, we all know
there’s sadness underneath the flagstones.
It’s a farewell party. We’ll leave claw & bite marks.
In the future, someone might know what we meant.