A CONVERSATION OVER A BOUQUET
Why do you want these? Silly.
Lilies are fragile and transient. Love
is more than a gesture that withers, a sum
of stems multiplied by exuberant blooms.
Listen to you.
I know they’re not practical, serious,
that even stolen from a garden they’re just
a token. But I want them.
Are they the children you can’t have?
Okay, they turn soft faces to sunlight, spur
spontaneous smiles, run wild
along the roadside, beautiful because
they’re doomed to die.
Yes. At least their beauty doesn’t lie
like false syllables brought to dark coffins
while spoken, promises dropped
like hot stones and then broken.
They’ll only remind you we cycle and splinter.
That’s just the point of it all. Petals fall.
Too sensitive, never really fashion
forward, I made a jacket out of it
and wore it everywhere. That piece
became my signature. Of course
it was black. But I added a twist,
embroidered the sleeves
with twining ivy the color of envy,
outlined the wide lapels with satin
thread that matches starlight
and adds a dash of hope. Even now
I like to wear it when I smoke.
MEET MY TWIN SISTER
The darker one, in shadow — she
would prefer not to speak, being
all body, aching skin, alerted hair,
averse to feeling a stitch of clothing
anywhere, certain that only tips
of fingers trailing down an arm,
resting briefly on a cheek, will do.
Her lips were made to kiss you. Or
if she hates you, wishes you dead, she
moves to muscle, becomes kick
and shove and stab instead. Either way
her dark eyes sparkle, telegraph screams,
satisfied moans. She’ll show you which
next time the three of us are left alone.
CLOSING YOUR EYES TO SEE BEHIND YOU
The past is anything but solid when it whispers, and the secret words
it sends have their own limits. Memory always fails to say more than a syllable
that misses subtle shades, ten thousand colors of confusion that led you
to this new date. You stand too formally, in black and white, forgetting
the old rules, that there were any, that you pushed against them harder
with the courage that came to a man condemned. Your anxieties,
collected since, just simmer. Now your mouth is dry, and when outstretched
your left hand shakes. Years that fell as fast as rain left bitter trackmarks
in their wake, stale kisses on your cheek. If you could fold the time together,
get point A to meet point D, the phone would ring and you would recognize
her voice saying your name, just like that yesterday you want to label red. But
it was turning at the edges even then, thin, scorched like parchment and
tea-tinted, words in cursive quickly fading. Now you fill them in with ink
that sleep erases, and your pillow in the morning shows a strand of long
black hair. Slipped underneath, a silver ring you think you used to wear.
Kasandra Larsen’s poetry has appeared in various literary journals, including Short Fuse: The Global Anthology of New Fusion Poetry, 100 Poets Against the War, Babylon Burning: 9/11 Five Years On, and Osprey Journal. Her work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2007.