Maari Carter is originally from Winona, MS and attended the University of Mississippi where she received a BA in English. Her work has appeared in Stone Highway Review, Steel Toe Review, and BOILER: A Journal of New Literature. She lives in Tallahassee, FL where she is Business & Promotions Director for The Southeast Review and hosts The Warehouse Reading Series. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Florida State University.
How We Know Origin
There’s no telling what the neighbors made of it:
blue fuzz of police lights through their blinds
or the sound of shoes dragging alongside the truck,
across asphalt that knew the skint meat of knees.
My brother can’t remember being loved best—
when he was the one on the front seat
Mama half in half out the passenger side
window, clutching for him, air rancid with his crows;
his father elbowing away from a future, sure
as the church bell in his ear that’d travel
down his arm one February day I always get wrong.
There was a gossip of phone lines, that magnolia-
sick breeze and the crackling between my hand
on the screen door and the steady crook of light
around the truck. My brother can’t remember
any of it, which makes him think he’s owed
something, because he never was someone’s
unclaimed luggage. So when Nana calls to tell me
he’s been forging Pappaw’s checks, I say I hate it,
but I’m not surprised. And yes, I know that sounds
like a hot thing. But who else is there to keep him
from building his heaven with warped harmonica
reeds? And what does it matter when memory
is a trailer park with our last name on every mailbox;
when all these years later, maps can lead them
to our yard, but can’t show them where we live.
In The Happy Ending I Write For Us
I stop cokefucking our friends.
We don’t invite neighbors over, neglect
hedges, let shutters do a striptease in July
heat. Your hands leather like dying
magnolias and my uterus collapses
your monuments. One-night stands
get buried under cabbage rows, until some
Sunday when I throw a spaghetti strainer
at your head, you say I’m nothing like Our Lady
of Akita, that Japanese statue we saw
on the Discovery Channel, miracles staining
her stone cheeks. You say my eyes are a hoax.
I see you in pieces of Mississippi, sex-
stunned under a woman whose thighs settle
around you like a new house, unconditionally
shifting those soft bonds, safe in every joint
of her load bearing bones. I’m the horror in how
we were living, coma-mouthed lunatic, foaming
at the kaleidoscope of liquor bottles that lined
our windowsills. They say I loved you
into the ground rather than admit my body refracted
the language of yearning. They say, one fall
cotton gum leaves were blood spattered
as you pried your name from the mailbox.