Poetry: “A Slow Pickling” by Tara Boswell

a drowned and legless female {insert your animal here}
how sweet             watch her commitment to being a life raft
no just a life vest                 c’mon you always wanted my hands around your neck

right after I flip the kitchen table
upending everything we were preparing for breakfast
take notes              one clove of garlic in each cheek

take your medicine              upend the life raft
a slow pickling                                     no a quick one
it’s bouncing now in triggers and heaps

the chord too close to my deflating hand
Kate Winslet does the math
just before she lets him drip diamonds down her chest

unplug the drain hole and find our footing                     on any clavicle really
some aristocrat floats on    chuckling
somebody better fetch the mercurochrome

but no one’s laughing                                          except my female body language
little darling                          small enough for a carry-on
so ride us ashore then                         let’s play

a game: celebrity death list
first string: she and she and she
and all the pretty animals                   built interchangeable

parts of most doll heads I know
like Midge’s Mediterranean                              on Skipper’s peaches and cream
don’t fuck with Barbie’s clavicle                      just her friends

my mother: don’t fuck with the original packaging                     ok just the second string
great I’ll just rub my Little Mermaid all over The New Kids on the Block
and then put them back in their boxes

their boxes: a Band-Aid on the SLUT spray-painted on my mother’s
teenaged yellow Camaro                   (banana boat)
because some other chick’s boyfriend wants                 wants to carry her books

hangs by her locker                             wants to hear her say:
please can I read some pre-19th century American Witchcraft
so tell me                              after so many hours under water

does my mother still smell very much like Ivory soap

 

 

***

Tara Boswell is a New Jersey native who lives and writes in Chicago, where she recently received her Poetry MFA from Columbia College. She is a founding curator of The Swell, an art cooperative and performance series. Her work can be found in Pinwheel, Salt Hill, PANK, Parcel, ILK, Heavy Feather Review, and elsewhere.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

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