Issue #7 July 2016
Detail from Dangling by Amy Casey

Sarah McKinstry-Brown

Lament of the Kept Woman

She wants, for once, to hold herself

together, to use her arms as a straightjacket.
Let someone else call the ambulance, call her a gazelle

out in the middle of traffic. She wants to be
angry, but he is there, always,

to hand her a towel when she steps out of the tub.
She wants to forget, but

there are the roses he brought home needing
fresh water. Look at those blackened petals


Doing The Dishes (While America Burns)

By the time I reach the last plate in the stack,
Amy calls to say they found out the baby’s sex
and now they know which colors

to dress the nursery in. Water running so hot
it burns, I listen, while in the next room
the news keeps breaking, something

about a mine collapse, or maybe
it’s a pedophile on the loose, another

oil spill. Phone cradled
between my ear and shoulder,
I scrub the faucet until it glints

astonished at this easy silence,
both of us momentarily dumb,
searching for solace

in a few coats of powder blue paint,
a bottle of Pine Sol
an empty sink.

The Shape of Things (After A Decade of Marriage)

He says box, and she says
coffin. He says house,

and she croons, soft
prison. He says

triangle, and she bites
her tongue, thinks

You. Me. The children. He
warns, hollow, and she

murmurs, bell. He promises
sea, and she begs

drown me. He motions
circle, and she spins

away from him.

They Said You Were Bad for Me. I Said

Your heart was always open, neon sign
that flickered: Guns Tools Jewels. Stars
are out of fashion. We counted to ten

and the sun set, the streets emptied.
You met me at the bar where dreams are blue,
an amber world inside each bottle,

where all of us are born from under sin
and roses. Mothers warn their daughters,

Call the dog a lamb,
he’ll still bare his teeth. So Jesus says

we’re lambs, and I say, either way we’re on
all fours, afraid and running from the light.