Jewelweed

is a perfect facsimile of human
anatomy, its hood fronted by a white
frill, its two orange flaps labial,
its tube an invitation. A slurry
of blackbirds shakes up; something
is fruiting in the kudzu. Goldfinches
spin, yellow ricochets in deep grasses,
tasseled brown with seed, burnished
as sun lengthens rays my children crayon.
Lacework of white foams in the field, as
Queen Anne shifts her train. Oval beetles,
bronze, metallic, cabochon, climb on
one another, move tiny thread-like
feelers. Leaves on which they bed
are eaten away into lace. A great aunt
asked her father, actually step
father, could she wear silk, rather
than flannel, to bed. I have a photo;
something crawls over me as I say it,
the way she sits between his legs,
thirty if she’s a day. Even this
cattle farm the road cuts through,
their beetles, their hay, was got
the hard way, by the family’s great
uncle, a Sheriff who ran whores,
shut people’s stills, his own still smoking.
Dusk, coyotes cross the field; from
the door of his trailer the gunsmith
shoots them like ducks. Birds pipe
up, experimenting with sounds, beneath
their toss and warble, a rooster struts.

 

 

Tina Barr’s books include Kaleidoscope, The Gathering Eye (Tupelo Press Editor’s Prize), and three award-winning chapbooks. Her fellowships include the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and The MacDowell Colony. She co-edits The Shining Rock Poetry Anthology & Book Review.

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