My mother scraped the name Patricia Ann from the ruins of her discarded Delta, thinking it would offer me shield and shelter, that leering men would skulk away at the slap of it. Her hands on the hips of Alabama, she went for flat and functional, then siphoned each syllable of drama, repeatedly crushing it with
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They Romp with Wooly Canines
and spy whole lifetimes on the undersides of leaves.
Jazz intrudes, stank clogging that neat procession
of lush and flutter. His eyes, siphoned and dimming,
demand that he accept ardor as it is presented, with
its tear-splashed borders and stilted lists, romance
that is only on the agenda because hours do not stop.
Bless his sliver of soul. He’s nabbed a sizzling matron
who grays as we watch, a thick-ankled New England
whoop, muscled to suffer his stifling missionary weight.
Earth-smudged behind the wheel of her pickup,
she hums a tune that rhymes dots of dinner trapped
in his beard with twilight. Is it still a collision course
if you must lie down to rest? Bless her as she tries
on his name for size and plucks hairs from her chin.
Bless him as he barrels toward yet another wife
who will someday realize, idly, that her only purpose
in this dwindling novella of his days is to someday
lower his heralded bulk, with little fanfare, into a grave.
Patricia Smith is a poet, teacher, and performance artist. Her poetry collections include Incendiary Art and Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the 2013 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.