Lindsay Bennett is currently a Master of Fine Arts student at Kent State
University in Ohio, where she also teaches composition and creative writing.
The people of St. Patrick's knew
she was a Protestant
by her garden. Lentils, black-eyed peas
she called iron-rich, good
during menstruation. In her kitchen,
shriveled garlic hung from ceiling beams
like punished men.
There was talk of tealeaves,
She used to sing opera
in the city, survived the pandemic,
took a taxi all the way
to Bayonne with no husband.
A left-footer, they whispered,
as she knelt between rows of beets,
quoting Martin Luther and
plucking herbs to sooth her throat.
Why should a man die
whilst sage grows in his garden?
She took communion
on her knees, forced to crawl, to open
her mouth, forbidden to receive the body
in her cupped hands.
After church, women huddled to ask
the cure for impotence or babies
born feet first. What use
is this purple flower, which crease
is the lifeline?
The basement was damp and rambling.
I sat at the top of the stairs, waited
for the pop and tear
of a box breaking open,
for the older girls to call to me
from the sewing room. They'd unfold
yards of mother's old fabric-lace, polyester,
pilled silk. We sneezed,
they stripped me naked, wrapped me
in elaborate layers of cloth
like a nun
or a dead Egyptian queen.
Christine got a Polaroid for Easter
and an album with one hundred slots filled
with pictures by the start
of the school year. Old curtains
became my wedding gown, black taffeta
from Halloween's witch costume
was a perfect leather skirt. We said sexy, I itched
and loved it, hold your head still!
while they pulled my hair into French twists,
braids so tight my eyes stung.
I was a bride, a prostitute, the Blessed Virgin'
our favorite because she had a baby
without sharing a bed with a man.
The only men we knew
were huge and clumsy as elephants. We did not
get underfoot or close enough
to be caught and tossed
in the air. Upstairs it was summer. Upstairs
the women ate shrimp cocktail
on the porch, had sleeveless blouses
with pearl buttons, red lips,
ice that clinked in crystal glasses.
Elegy for Buddy
Your dog died.
So we put on our pajamas
and share a bottle
of cheap wine.
Your socks are very white,
you tell me,
because you found them
at the back of the drawer,
hidden, never worn--
a bonus, really.
There is something on TV
we don't watch.
We talk and are glad
for the noise we make.
I gesture wildly
and poke you in the eye
and we are glad, too,
for that flurry.
We huddle together
on the couch.
If Godzilla unhinged
the outer wall
of your apartment
he would find us like this:
my cold hands pressed
our little faces
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