A painting portrays a woman next to a maple tree next to a house. The woman lifts the edge of her skirt with one hand, holds an axe in the other. The air is windless— crushed grapes thicket a black field, canvas pools against roots. The painter breathes the night’s flushed oil and aches for what she figures; a brush to stroke in tandem with her lungs. The painter asks me for my name. I am the painter. I am the woman holding the axe next to the maple tree. The woman raises the axe but stops midair; the tree is already split. What a mirage. What an excuse to shove my own becoming in a frame.
To Refrain a Starling
No time to talk he says, so I sing; her body here can’t be undone. It’s time for dusk, for listening.
What color does November bring but emerald gilded as the sun: bitter hedges and concealing.
That night the sky was only ceiling, her dress so slim & quick, unspun with doors left locked, keyhole breathing.
I stop; a starling breaks its wing-- a pattern of flight, a silence outrun, her face a mirror. Bring it to me.
From your own mouth you let her sing then fall thread thin, as only one. How can this better keep beating?
How can this better keep beating for any somewhere, for anyone. We need to talk he says, so I sing the dusk is here, is the listening
After the After Party
November’s magenta hour tucks me in a party’s crowded texture. Soft hook & slurred palette (too many cups too many others). You’re there
in the corner talking to a woman composed. Her dress’s green slit coaxes a metallic doubt from my throat; (crackling phone calls rum shock comfort) I pour myself another drink. She hands you
a photograph of the after, where the dress is gone and her laughter strips the wallpaper. Her fizzing triumph shifts the photo into an envelope (mauve tongue, sobbing blossom) You open it and the music stops.
I’m turning all the lights on (no one’s single pigment) I’m asking everyone to leave.
-- Rachel Cruea is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Colorado-Boulder. She is originally from Ohio, where she spent her undergrad years at Ohio Northern University and grew up in Findlay, Ohio. She has had her work previously published in editions of The Pinch, The Adroit Journal, Birds Piled Loosely, Gasher, and elsewhere.