Still life, I want to say: yellow pine, blue
willow cup, broken loaf of bread, my own
hand, raised but paused, unwilling to break
the frame. Sitting shirtless in this kitchen,
I can’t remember how long it’s been—hours?
days?—since I sat in the tub while the water
ran cold. A broken hinge, the great hands
of a man, fingers dug into my arms, lifting
lifting, as though it were nothing. Something
snaps behind me, but I don’t turn. I see
a woman’s body slammed into a wall.
The woman’s body crashing through the door.
(Snap.) She sits, head between her knees, hair ends
trailing slow, wet circles. The husband drags her
dripping to the bed. He shakes her, Nothing
has happened. She lies, unmoving, (snap),
he’s wrenching the front door open. My son, he calls, could not have beaten you. If my
son had hit you, you’d be dead. But she’s still
alive, though waking hard at dawn, someone
pounding, it’s Bridget, ready to car-pool,
finding the woman in bed (snap), and it’s
the body I wear, it’s Bridget saying just
a couple left. Have I sat all morning, waiting
for my hand, stopped over the china cup,
refusing to dip the linen pouch,
still as a held breath, to unclench? Hold it, Bridget says, once more, and I hang there
until, finally, she turns my elbow and I drop
the leaves. It shocks me: suddenly, I can weep,
grieving at this tiny loss—my empty fingers, the string
unwinding, dark against white porcelain,
the tea losing itself, steeping (a common thing),
how easily it bleeds under the water’s skin.
Sara Kennedy lives in Lexington, Virginia, and teaches at Mary Bladwin College. She holds a Ph.D. in Renaissance Poetry from Purdue and an MFA in Poetry from Vermont College. Her first book of poems, From the Midland Plain, was published in 1999. She won the Second Annual Elixir Press Book Award in 2002 for her most recent collection of poems entitled Flow Blue.
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