(after “The Road from Market” oil on canvas, by Thomas Gainsborough)
She glows the dark woodpath,
sidesaddle ankles dangling,
and men bring her gifts of
embroidered cloths commissioned of their sisters.
Musculature below her body
heaves her taffeta ahead
down men’s worn mudpath.
Flattened here in grey winter Midwest,
it seems fable there ever would have been horses
to drape our bodies on
those hides our only means toward
lovers afar, toward sisters carried
away on hideback to lovers’ stone walls.
She leaves her climbed tree limbs behind, and
sister night whispers,
and mother’s cakes and skirt folds.
Girlhood breadcrumbs fading in trails
with horse plop.
She would never believe there are
locomotives now, and cars,
that ladies’ legs can straddle wide horsebacks or
fly Delta to Tijuana.
Our new flatlands melt open wide—
horizon enough to hide ourselves in furred
animals, cotton knits, damp taxicabs with
cracked vinyl pricking backs of bared thighs.
In mossdark smut, tree bark and horse sweat smell
it is fable to her alabaster neck that
she need not be carried by anything broader than
her two legs.
A Mezcal Toast
Like a long-nosed bat
tongue ribboned into
cupped agave blossoms
I’ve wasted my faith thinking
your only means of pollination
was my wingless hover.
I sip this tequila now, its breath
of char lugging resistant
bitterness behind like a housefire
like a chimney caved-in
brick by grayblack brick in a puff
of creosote and bird bones.
To you, this lime and smoked
nectar like a sip of Iceland’s
cold upon volcanic cold
and to Leptonycteris shitting
upside-down in a cave craving
the only flower its ever known.
A lifetime Ohioan, Kerry Trautman is a founder of ToledoPoet.com and the “Toledo Poetry Museum” page on Facebook, which promote Northwest Ohio poetry events. Her work has appeared in various anthologies and journals, including Slippery Elm, Free State Review, Thimble, The Fourth River, Alimentum, Midwestern Gothic, and Gasconade Review. Kerry’s poetry books are Things That Come in Boxes (King Craft Press 2012,) To Have Hoped (Finishing Line Press 2015,) Artifacts (NightBallet Press 2017,) and To be Nonchalantly Alive (Kelsay Books 2020.)