Poems from Mistress by Chet’la Sebree
As a tampon bouquets in toilet water,
I think of Bellovedere—a wine I tried
on a Wednesday along with an Italian
man’s mouth, full of English.
I don’t know what reminds me of this.
Perhaps the red, perhaps
that bello da vedere means beautiful to see,
and I understand beauty
is always a train leaving the station, understand that
I’m always worried I’ll be moments too late,
as the poly-blend slurries out its braided restraints.
Something about my language on his tongue
as he discusses Montepulciano,
reminds me of a baby I may never see,
as the soaked cotton continues its unraveling.
Abito in Ravenna
You live “in” countries and continents;
you live “a Ravenna,” cities and towns,
the gruff Florentine corrects me,
tongue doing a pirouette.
I murmur vorresti rigatoni all’arrabiata
under my breath to feel the heft
of the words roll around, but
there’s glue in my mouth. Here,
I am a pigeon-toed ballerina,
a four-year-old learning to ride
my biggie bike, unable to
stabilize, tipping off the seat—
Little Mermaid-decorated metal
falling on top of me.
Wiping frustration from my face,
I smile, Si singore, abito a Ravenna
where women know nothing
of my gracelessness,
cycling with umbrellas and lit cigarettes.
Winter Warm, December 1807
You brought the chill in on your buttons.
My hands, cold from the cellar, make their way
from shirt front to collar. I circumvent you,
pull the blue-colt coat from your shoulders.
I shudder—wined breath on neck,
fingertips on ribs of corset.
Inside, I go outside for a moment,
imagine a star-speckled sight that keeps me—
as striped, worsted wool falls to the floor—
from hungering for my mother, brother, Paris.
Brought back by the crackle of fire
—within me—as you lift my shift slowly.
The crickets’ hum quiets in autumn—
season of slow death, season of your birth—
silence making the leaves more necessary
as night comes earlier each morning.
I sent the winter socks and sweaters you left me in May—
talismans I hoped would bring you back
for wool-warm nights and blue-hue mornings.
Wrap your sixth love in as many springs
in your grey cable-knit, your fleeced Gold-Toes.
I’m slow-streaking across a vacant lot
from the arms of one sweater to another’s,
trying to find me in the in-between.
Read Kari Ann Ebert's interview with Chet’la Sebree here.