She took the knife out now. Richard had just risen, the mattress swelling with the forgiveness of his weight. He paused at the bathroom door, the light behind him throwing a shadow on the outline of his taut belly. A stiff, wiry hair, strong as an antenna, pointed from his middle roundness. Clara Jayne had the overwhelming urge to pluck it. Maybe even to suck it. He said, “I’m so glad we’re doing this,” “this” meaning the child he wanted and she didn’t.
Karla Van Vliet’s lyrical imagination has unearthed for us a tender relic, Fragments: From the Lost Book of the Bird Spirit, her third collection. Fragments is posited as salvaged pieces of an ancient spiritual text, written in an early defunct language (as suggested by the cuneiform-like marks on the book’s cover), ardent lines that are the survivors of extensive effacement and erasure.
Oldguy, invited to a white-tie banquet / honoring him for service to mankind, / mistakes his rented duds for opera attire.
Silent, a few yards apart, we picked blackberries / in the wild place Dad didn’t know about. / He knew this much: Men could do us harm. / Some pervert might follow our broken twigs
I marry a column of air. / I marry my own / freedom, and at the altar / it and I merely brush / knuckles. I marry time
Back then, you would have mistaken me for a happy person. Bright, cheerful. The kind of young woman you wanted your lost-in-his-dreams-of-moneyed-youth son to marry.
You would have thought that I was healthy. That I was pretty. That I was kind.
They poked me with a straw / sucked out some adipocytes, five bulbous bubbles.
I was a novice angler. / A junkie, nodding out, / Whispered, come a little / Closer—I’m going to / Let you in on a secret.
I have always enjoyed a deceptively simple word problem. When used in this context, the adverb could mean both that the word problem is deceptive in pretending simplicity, but also that it is simple despite its deceptively intimidating appearance. The former iteration is the case, here.
Dirt, rock’s clatter on pine boards, / smooth grey stone on smooth gray stone.
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