The bright dark red lipstick supplies the ballast. The boat rocker feels the pull. It is I, of course, not the oars, not the current, not the surprisingly expensive lipstick that is the oars, the current, the very paint on the boat of the lips, who is speaking. I want to say that I am tired. I would like very much one day to be the dragonfly with transparent wings posed on the oarlocks, the rim of the boat, the leaves that are dipping as I speak, over the currents that I can only guess at. I do not know what lies below this boat, what sunken radiance, what rusted dreams hidden in their leaky boxes, what fish with hook scars in their mouths, what bodies bloated with water, resting on the floor. The lipstick is Chanel. In real life it looks ridiculous on my grandmother’s forelip which now I wear. I have scarred it by fainting one night and hitting my mouth on the edge of a desk. When the toddler woke up for kindergarten it was too late for stitching my lip whole. But on camera, the color is divine. The waves will not take me as long as I am wearing it. How I really feel is how anyone really feels in any circumstance. I am longing, as you are, for someone to say, I like you. You are doing great. Look at you, sitting here with your calloused hands, noting the sparkle of the water, the passing of the days. Each one is a bubble of time, which I would gladly pop with you.
Frank Takes a Fence
What on earth, inquired the wife, are you going to do with another fence? I can't yet say, said the husband, but how can I not take it? It was just lying there he added, on the table, next to the butter knife and the idea of Russian braids. But husband, persisted the wife, where are you going to keep it? The cupboards are full of fences you've taken, we have no more room on the wall, and even the pillows are stuffed, she added, with fences. Not to mention the duvet. The husband looked pensive, and then he looked perspicacious, and then he looked like a man who has once remembered a dream. The wife waited next to the fence the husband was taking next to the butter knife and the idea of Russian braids, and also next to the swirly blue napkins while the sun set and then rose, and the climate took on a fetching languor, so that soon all the fences were dropping their pickets. And far far away a little sun seed was seething in the sea. In the morning, the husband fingered a fallen picket. What would you think, he inquired of the wife, if instead of a fence, I collected pickets? The wife took the picket to the mossy light, itching to pick her teeth.
-- Marcela Sulak is the author of the lyric memoir Mouth Full of Seeds. Her fourth poetry collection,City of Sky Papers, appears in May from Black Lawrence Press. She’s co-edited the Rose-Metal Press title Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres. Her four book-length poetry translations were nominated for the 2017 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and awarded a 2019 NEA fellowship. Sulak is Associate Professor at Bar-Ilan University.