Fiction   Essays   Poetry  The Ten On Baseball Chapbooks In Memory

Susan Milchman

At a Red Light

She steals your breath away,
while you are unaware,
of everything.
In a blink, at a red light, through the window
of a dark blue mustang.
Her hair flows like liquid wheat
down around her bronzed shoulders;
brilliant, golden strands of sun,
like tiny sacrifices laid out for the Gods.
She turns in your direction and it is
suddenly possible that your mother
is not dying of cancer.
Her lips are full and pink, sweet bites
of cotton candy, that softly beckon
your forgotten boyhood fantasies.
She lets you borrow her smile and
tilts her head back, knowing,
that you are changed.
You envision making her pancakes
on a cold, winter morning; whisking
devotion and years of serenity into the batter.
You nibble on her grace while sipping
orange juice, and marvel that time has not
siphoned an ounce from her wellspring
of beauty.
Then you remember that you have to pick
up the dry cleaning.
Somewhere, a baby cries, salt is spilled, and
the glistening back of a whale breaks
the silence of the sea.

The light turns green.

Conversation With My Heart

She beats softly in the darkness,
as I sink into pastures of slumber.
A blanket of absence covers me,
as invisible fingers tattoo memories
into her walls.
I awaken to the smell
of smoke in my pillow.
Slowly, she remembers that she is broken.
I tell her that rivers of sunsets have passed
and that it is time
to sand down the rutted edges,
varnish the crack, and be whole again.
Her steady blindness holds me hostage.
I tell her to borrow my eyes
so she can see what I see, know what I know.
I tell her to taste my humiliation.
Yet, she is resolute in her rhythm,
wearing her pin of melancholy
like a shimmering, sapphire evening gown.
To be broken, she says, is to be beautiful.

Map of a Girl

I am a girl
covered with pāper-maché.
A map of the World,
my skin.
Tropic of Capricorn cuts
across my heart center,
unspooling my compass,
separating my oceans.
Salty violent seas swirl
at my temples,
scorching desert sands
flood my ears,
blow into my eyes.
I feel everything,
like a starving lover,
yet, I possess nothing.

©2010 by Susan Milchman

Susan Milchman lives in Minneapolis with a tolerant husband, two spirited little girls, three goldfish who will never die, and two ancient felines with stomach issues. She writes poetry for sanity, and is a permanent student at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

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