Diminution, 11am

(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.  

Photo by Anne Valerie Portrait

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 ReviewLos 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    

Next Page (David Dodd Lee)

Previous Page (Wasima Farah)