It’s like Sharon Olds and Freud are having breakfast at Gertrude Stein’s place. From outside to inner worlds, the poem steadily dissolves walls, bodily boundaries, body and brain, left and right. Danger electrifies the poem. At any moment the lovers may be caught, although they’re already discovering each other, although they’ve already had little deaths of pleasure.
—Ian Williams, Thomas Morton Memorial Prize Judge, 2015 (Special Mention)
It was the end of a season. It was the end
of summer. We woke up beside each other
in a bed with white sheets. He touched me.
His mother was in the kitchen. She spoke
to the dog, her voice laughing
at the edges. She poured food in his metal
bowl. I spread my legs. The smell of coffee,
cinnamon. We were quiet, my mouth
was open. The sheets were flannel,
white. The door was ajar. A few inches.
She was in the kitchen. I could hear her
voice. My mouth was open for the last
time. I came. He touched me white soft
metallic bowl. His mother’s voice. Smell
of coffee and cinnamon. The end of a season
I came the door slightly open my spine
white dog, fingers that know her voice.
Metallic sound, his fingers spreading
four years the door god I am the dog,
the white dog covered in a black
sheet. Fingers that know my body’s
seasons. Her voice my own. Curling spine,
arching for him. Did he know
it was the last time he would touch me,
my open voice curling, dissipating?
Did he imagine the sound of the next
season, the next man in whose hand
I would come. Come, the world is full
of bedrooms, find and memorize
them, contours of strange fingers. Silhouette
of leaves against the streetlight and black
sheets October stiff. The first time always
carries the knowledge of the last: sleeping
little cell, secret half-life. Wind and rain
striking a window my mouth slack, soft,
spreading. Him licking my spine, my exposed
neck. The door prying open at the edges
with laughter. The first time. I will be
nothing more than a neck for this one.
How they resist learning the body, following
its instructions like a dog. The last time,
last time, my little open. He was the dog, I was
the mother, a crack in the eyes of the door.
He was already gone, dissipating, sealing
the edges of my body my neck my little bird
in the hand of the next man.
Caitlin Scarano is a poet in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee PhD creative writing program. She was a finalist for the 2014 Best of the Net Anthology and the winner of the 2015 Indiana Review Poetry Prize, judged by Eduardo Corral. She has two poetry chapbooks: The White Dog Year (dancing girl press, 2015) and The Salt and Shadow Coiled (Zoo Cake Press, 2015). Her recent work can be found in Granta, Crazyhorse, and Colorado Review.