With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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Man who once was a boy on a strawberry farm in Ponchatoula.
Man who pulled me onto his lap in front of his friends,
played my spine like a fiddle.
The notes were off beat,
off-key, a collection of minor chords in my teenage heart.
Man like a triangle. Man like a drum. Man who stabbed
my tire? Man who took me home to his mama for Thanksgiving.
Fried catfish and Ruby Redbird. Étouffée man.
Atchafalaya man. Foreign man all up
in this business. Man who walked his fingers up my back
while I sat on his knee, whispered hotly
in my ear, Let’s pretend you’re my dummy.
It’s just a little fun. I think this is where
I’m supposed to feel regret, where the spinning plates
fall to the floor and my bare feet
aren’t cute anymore, just sticky with gin and Southern Comfort.
But a good set of arms is hard to leave,
a broad back can make a girl go gardenias and yucca,
and when I heard my name reborn on his Louisiana tongue,
the whole world came to fan hot little me,
to bring me the smelling salts, to sing out, Tiiiiiimber,
Megan J. Arlett