Size / / /

A bee once stung my mouth, you see.
I learned to tread the water's edge,
ream oranges, and sunny dawns drown
honeycombs in pools of salt and lye.

They'll say I never was a steady gal,
but long before you came again
I'd started drawing maps, each route
where X was the rag-tatted lace I would place

near my carpenter's warm human heart.
They'll say I was sea-drunk, skirts netting
old cod; these bowed hips (they'll say)
could do nothing but buy. Cheap as sand dollars,

faithless as women can be,
when the sea spit you back
I raced out of my carpenter's pine-hearted arms
with a ring finger tattooed salt white.

Six ships carried you on the salt
salt sea, and one moored on land
to ferry me. Gold-heavy they bobbed,
ruby-laden they swayed all your hulls

to point east Friday morn.
They've told it before and they'll tell
it again: how I loved you like stars
on a scale. What they miss so do I:

my carpenter's lathe-riddled hands,
birch-white band last I tucked
in his pence-empty seams. The truth
of the matter is I always knew you:

gravestone heels, flash of teeth,
viper tongue. Lye won't scratch.
But bees return, too, and I knew
how to do it. My hands were as clumsy as mice.

They'll say hollow and mean it, but how
could they see just how sweet I can spin?
It was ten holes I made that day: him, you, and me.
How those bows tackled under like ice.

We see land but the orchid-teeth sand's
not for us. Seven ships I set skimming
across the salt sea; let your sins be kissed
breathless by water. I win.

Pamela Manasco is a writer, editor, and poet living in the Birmingham, Alabama area.
Current Issue
5 Jun 2023

Jackson sat at Kay’s bedside, one of her hands laid atop his, palm to palm, fingertips against the soft inside of her wrist. His fingers measured her temperature and pulse, her blood pressure, and her blood oxygen levels. She was no weaker or stronger today than yesterday. He was unsurprised and uneasy. Her vitals were regular with sleep. She had been resting when he returned from the shore.
You do not mean this as slang.
certain people of the town go outside, kick off their shoes
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