Bethany Reid's poetry has recently appeared in Calyx, Signs Of Life, The Sun, Permafrost, BLACKBIRD, and Stringtown. She teaches creative writing and American literature at Everett Community College.
The Heart in Eden
A yellowing archetype, pale against a row
of hot pink symbols. Silver leaves of a metaphor
translucent in noon sun-simile and simulacrum,
hyperbole, laced ironies, a blasted paradox.
Late-bloomed beneath the crabapple,
a quartet of metaphysical conceits. Bees bumble
among tall metonymies. Striped allusions
climb a synesthetic rose. Blue rhymes.
When You Say
when you say
how will we pay for that
I am a cormorant
in ancient China
a brass ring
around my throat
and my chain in the hand
of a man who smiles
as I surface
a silver fish in my beak
I can't swallow
you are the smiling man
holding the chain
the man who takes the fish
who says good girl
as if praise
is what a cormorant dives for
She says she paints her nails red to remind us
of the blood of Christ Jesus and why
shouldn't she is my question - if the peacock's tail
is praise and the red cap of the woodpecker,
maybe a beautiful manicure, too,
is God's witness and that should explain
those TV evangelists, the ones
with the $1200 suits and their wives
with bleached hair - they're beautiful
for Jesus, bearing witness to beauty the way
the rust stain in the shower stall in Georgia
bears witness to Jesus and the onion ring
found under a car seat in West Virginia
evokes Mary and the baby Jesus and sells
on E-Bay for $695 - enough to buy
half a suit for the TV evangelist, almost enough
to redeem a 52” plasma TV at Wal-Mart -
on which one can beautifully watch
the TV evangelist and the woman
with her blood-red nails and on another channel
the Guatemalan child one could sponsor
for $30 each month, whose fly-tormented face
is beautiful, too, so beautiful that even
God must look at it and praise God.
After the mouse took the thorn
from his paw, the lion was grateful,
though not so much that he swore off mice
forever. So it is when love begins.
He says he'd never harm her.
She says she'll never love another.
It's too good to be true.
Human nature turns out to be bigger
God knows, it lasts longer.
He yells. She loves the baby more.
He's a brute. She's a shrew.
If you loved me, she says. Fortunately I don't,
he answers, and in the shocked
or hurt or smug silence after
you can hear the mouse in the lion's teeth,
bones crunching delicately
like thin crusts on a favorite dessert.