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Gossip

by Alison Stine


Oh, it was good.  I was good.  You’re so good,
he said.  A purple miniskirt and a black
satin string.  I smelled like cotton. I smoked
cigarettes with my legs.  I sheared a windmill. 
I ballpoint-pen-etched our names.  I was high
school. I was sweet breath, and when I caught
him in the laundry room, I pulled him down
in the lint.  I had gum in my mouth and I
snapped it, and the gum reminded him
of a cat’s crimp.  I was a cat. I shaved.  I was thin
as a breeze.  It is true in the yard, in the barn,
by the flagpole.  I had splinters in my shoulder
and milk paint in my veins.  My back was a yarn
scratch.  I came.  I came.  Oh, you must have
been in a rabbit hole when I came.  You must
have been a lawn mower blade.  You were
the blood, the mosquito in the stump bath,
the black fly, the twig, the tick latching in the shade. 
It is true in the day.  It is true in the car park,
on the rooftop, the shingles thudding down
like rain.  Everything you heard.  Our bodies,
pale as stitched stars, made the shapes you say. 
Strange how he never once mentioned, all
those times in the star bay, you: your stinking
mouth; your eyes, rat-black, blank and ablaze.

 

Alison Stine’s first book of poems, Ohio Violence, won the Vassar Miller Prize and will be published by the University of North Texas Press in spring 2009. She is also the author of a chapbook, Lot of my Sister (Kent State University Press, 2001), and received a 2008 Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. (10/2008)


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