on our porch, after a dinner of burnt
rice and buttered zucchini, we’d been laughing
about how we could barely feed ourselves.
Now, all I can do is watch as a vermillion sky spreads
like a blooming hyacinth, like a woman’s mouth,
like my step-aunt’s mouth as my mom’s fist cracked
her nicotine teeth, cheap lipstick-stained mouth.
Considering what I learned then: never let a bitch talk shit
about your family; break a beer bottle (something cheap)
let the foam and the cold run over your hot fist,
like steam pooling through a saucepan lid, swing, aim
for the arms, the face (stay clear of the neck);
Annie Oakley their ass with the butt of a pistol
to cheekbone; bring them to the ground (with spurs
on your boots). Mark your territory, stand your ground.
Just like keeping cinnamon stocked and the horses fed,
this was the woman’s job in the family (for the family).
He’s still waiting for my answer, holds my hand
as the hawk hunting the wheat field finally retires to the trees,
its silhouetted sheets of hawthorn and ash
twisting towards the open flesh painted sky
like broken fingers trying to fold and pray, like my mother’s
bloody knuckles, like my fresh-split knuckles.
I tell him, We’ll see as a hush of hunger and restless bodies
shutter across this farm and with the hawk, we wait, we breathe.
Emilee Kinney hails from the small farm-town of Kenockee, Michigan, only a couple miles from one of the Great Lakes: Lake Huron. She received her BA in Creative Writing and History from Albion College in Albion, Michigan and is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Kinney is an editor for Crab Orchard Review and MAYDAY and maintains her own website featuring contemporary poetry and book recommendations: www.emileekinneypoetry.com.
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