Girl on Underwood
Listen: bleachers of keys, engraved XCV
Ampersand, Zed Naught 3
Score, and the sighs and cracks
From the slim shadow by the windowpane
Are an orphan's, darkened by maple shade.
Bargain at the Orphanange, 1962
Pretty May sun tints,
on her institutional bed,
slippery pages carved by lead
of algebra or stars in magazines
and Melville, Donne, Ellery Queens,
ads for cars and bread.
Her sweatshirt rattles me:
a dress. Her feet and legs are bare.
Carelessness, taunting, done on a dare?
I think she doesn't care.
Nothing under but white elastic round
her varnished rounds, cotton tightened by
forms. Look, she says, face down.
Look at my essay, kid, please?
You're so good at doing English and
I'm sick of getting D's.
James Robison has
published many stories in The New Yorker and won a Whiting Grant for
his short fiction and a Rosenthal Award from the American
Academy of Arts and Letters for his first novel. His work has appeared in Best
American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, Grand Street, and The
Manchester Review. He co-wrote the 2008 film, New Orleans Mon Amour, and
has poetry and prose forthcoming or published in Story Quarterly, The
Northwest Review, The Dublin Quarterly, Salt Hill Journal, The Montreal Review,
Message A Bottle, Thrush Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. He taught for eight
years at the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program, was Visiting
Writer at Loyola College of Maryland, was Fiction Editor of The North
Dakota Quarterly and 2011 Visiting Artist at The University of Southern
Mississippi. He is the winner of a Pushcart Prize for 2013 and his prose poem
will appear in that anthology.