Order can be found here – in an open palm,
where pieces of life take the shape of reality.
There a smile lies off center, an ear sticks out,
plaited hair is windblown. I dissect anatomies
thinking something must be wrong to see only
wrong & swipe through the past till memories
dissolve to indistinct yet salvable moments – in my palm,
where I can deal the cards. The screen’s empty white
stamp fades & I can see a falcon as it comes
into focus, a palimpsest, on a window-sill throne,
layers of soft down, spindly claws, a silky black tail,
its russet feathers rustle in the wind until my clumsy
movement turns its head, owl like, from his hawk-eyed hunt.
Our eyes meet & I wonder if he sees me or only his reflection,
if he knows how with the change of a word, I have made him
real - created a he where none was before, out of the void.
It’s bikini season again
though the one piece is
trending like in ‘91 &
summer camp initiation.
In a mall with cozy armchairs,
and colorful racks, Mom showed
me suitable ones with padded
bras for nipple-less breasts
lest any gaze be tempted. I found
mine, little corseted waist, forced
it on again at home in front of dad
for his awkward approval;
walking back and forth, in a
balancé movement, spinning
on my heel, a boxed jewelry
dancer, tiny arms raised high.
Now a tumor walks across
his throat growing limbs
that wrap around the nerves,
arms reaching out, hands
waving like goodbye,
& tiny clotted words on
my tongue leave me
no response while my mind
reels & walks away.
It’s bikini season again
that ritual peeling down
through layers to exposed
skin. I was 13, learning
to shave, balanced on
wet camp tiles other feet
had touched before, knee bent,
in a frontal attitude,
an exotic bird dancing
when my hand slipped,
nicked the ankle bone -
mingled blood to water
washing everything down
the drain except a scab, &
a tiny scar that remains
to remember, drying off
at the poolside, knee bent,
wet leg balanced out.
I took Mom back home, in part,
surreptitiously in a glass jar,
remains of her I could have pieced
together to mother myself. We
walked around the town’s walled
waterway & as dad talked about
the best way to maneuver this task,
I tipped her all out, surprising us both.
She formed a cloud under the surface;
in a slow, ash-white adagio,
& bubbles floated up
like expelled breath when she laid down
on the riverbed to rest, surprising us both.
It’s bikini season again –
though this year is nothing
like we imagined last time –
& I dream of warm
pooled skin or salty air
on my tongue & you, my own
tiny dancer, are scared
though there is nothing to fear
here in this little bedded space
where you will not remember
what I say. That serpent
you seem to dream of is not real
nor the water it dances in
nor the wrist it wraps around
in a pirouette over your clenched
fist & not even this woman -
who you cannot see -
who comes in darkness to soothe.
Jennefer Cole has been published in The Broadkill Review (2018,2019), FLAR ( 2018, 2019), and Erbacce Press in 2021; and shortlisted for The Delmarva Review (2020, 2021, 2022), selected for publication by The Halcyone, 2020. She currently heads the English Department and teaches American Literature while working on her PhD in Paris, France.