(after Edward Hopper)
Blue to yellow, the voice told me
not to bathe. The voice said the window
is a guardrail. Said today is just like tomorrow.
There is no safety from the noise
and the sorrow of birds. Told me to sit
very still, like a red clay pot on a shelf.
The voice said don’t take out the trash,
don’t make-up the bed. Beauty only makes
pain bellow worse, until the mattress takes up
all the air in the room. Said to deadbolt the door
where latchkey brats dwell. Once, my breasts
were savvy as two new bucket seats.
The railroad tracks took my love to another town,
to raise another woman’s children. The voice said
the sun will crack your skin like paint on
an old wall. The voice said you’re not here,
you’re an erasure. Said the radio would tune out
the pathos of loose wires. Little motes
of silence trip the air, my lips are hugging
the voice. The chatter of teeth. Make yourself
naked, make yourself null. Make yourself
small as a toothpick in his teeth, with shoes like daggers.
Cynthia Atkins is the author of Psyche’s Weathers and In The Event of Full Disclosure, and the collection “Still-Life With God” (Saint Julian Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including, Alaska Quarterly Review, Apogee, BOMB, Cleaver Magazine, Cultural Weekly, Denver Quarterly, Diode, Florida Review, Flock Lit, Green Mountains Review, Los Angeles Review, North American Review, Rust + Moth, Sweet: A Literary Confection, SWWIM, Tampa Review, and Verse Daily, and nominated for Pushcart and Best of The Net. Formerly, Atkins worked as the assistant director of the Poetry Society of America. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf and the VCCA, Atkins teaches creative writing at Blue Ridge Community College and lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County VA with her family. More or @catkinspoet info at: www.cynthiaatkins.com