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Wednesday, September 17, 2008


by Darlene Pagán

I worry less about the grown man
who stumbled into the emergency room
complaining of chest and abdominal pain
after consuming an aphrodisiac made
from toad venom, than I do
about the woman pacing
her apartment floors waiting for him:

stopping to gaze at her reflection
in the mirror then the window then
the mirror then back again, tilting
her head here, parting her lips there,
smiling, nodding, her occasional laughter
sputtering like flame on a wet wick.

With dusk’s fire light gone, the silk teddy
looks too tight under her arms,
where the flesh makes two folds,
one for each child,
first a boy then a girl,
away for the weekend.

She takes a breath, unzips the side,
shuts the curtains, smears the mirror
with No. 217 Lips by Lippy tangerine lipstick,
peels the silk away from her body like
gauze from a binding or a burn
that only the risk of exposure
could possibly cure.

Darlene Pagán’s poetry is forthcoming in Willow Springs and her poems and nonfiction have most recently appeared in Literal Latte, The Nebraska Review, and The MacGuffin. She teaches writing and literature at Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR.