Lavina Blossom

Shifting a Line


Skirt tight to her thighs

in Michigan wind, Mother raised

her arms to pin towels between

my panties and her bras

and bloomers, trying to disguise

our underthings.  Wet laundry

wagged and snapped, inflated,

then collapsed.


That night,

my brother and I came up

from the orchard, ducked

the clothes line in the dark, and his boot

came down on a kitten.  We must

have trusted Mother to do our final

chore, carry the kitten to the corner

of the calf barn, block

the door with a board.


After that, some

bent lever in the cat's head turned the ball

of fluff and bone off course, added

a spin and cock to its step.  It

veered and swiveled left

and left again, and soon was dead.


It might have been the year

my brother shipped out to Vietnam that

Dad planted metal poles and moved

the clothesline behind the shed, where passers by

could not spy our underclothes and think

about us naked, as Mother believed

they must, although her winning

argument had been the dirt road dust.


My brother claims

he never fired his rifle at the Vietcong.  I like

believing that he learned from early accident

to stand quite still, or, when compelled

through darkness, to glide one foot

along the ground while feeling for

a smaller body's heat, allowing time for him

to swerve.  Although, it does occur to me that

for our mother's sake, he lied.



Brim Full

Although the night grows chill, no

turtleneck.  While the cup

brimmeth over, enhance the effect

with a low cut sweater.  When the eye

brimmeth over, blow the nose, reapply

the makeup, lift the chin, say, "Allergies,"

or "Dust."  Let them fill the beer mug or the wine

glass to the brim, and drink.  Order another

and another until the no-chin balding

plump gentleman by himself in the corner looks

good enough, looks fine.

If his wallet

doth not brim over, never mind.  And if few words

brim from his mouth, you fill the pauses, tell him

a few things about yourself, leaving out

the divorce, the son who called you

a whore and chose his father.  Don't

mention the lump in that left breast that the man's

gaze drops to over and over.  Take him home, let

generosity brim and spill.  Fill his arms, abate

his loneliness.  Do a kindness for a stranger,

and take comfort, too, in spite of all those nights you

went forth brimming with the surety

that you were the one deserved more.

Lavina Blossom grew up in rural Michigan and now lives in Riverside, California.  She divides her creative hours between poetry and painting (primarily collage and mixed media).  She has a blog focusing on her creative process as a visual artist:  She has an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of California, Irvine, and her poems have appeared in various journals, including The Paris Review, The Literary Review, and Kansas Quarterly, as well as in the online journal Poemeleon.  Her short story "Blue Dog" appeared in the online journal Women Writers.  She is an Associate Editor of Poetry for Inlandia: a Literary Journey.



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