Oct/Nov 2006 Poetry

Two Poems

by Shanna Germain

Photo by Jim Gourley

In the Midst of Storms

The family tree leaves branches everywhere.
Kittens carry twigs between their teeth,
lose them inside the couch like living things.
Even the cushions are sown with sticks.

I pull acorns from behind the dogs' ears.
The kids think it's a neat trick, but don't like
the roots in their beds, the way wood steals
blankets and groans in its sleep.

A black widow tats doilies across
my husband's eyes. Blind, he seeds
marigolds in the kitchen cupboards,
waters the plates and cups.

After dark, the swamp moves closer, while snags
exhale their poison breaths. Alligators
climb the porch steps holding my
mother-in-law's voice between their toes.

The heat is everywhere. Morning
glories close their faces to the fences.
The waning moon becomes a ring
forgotten in the dresser of the sky.

In the leaving, you can't tell which limbs
are strong enough to hold you. My lover plants
his hands in my hair. To save things,
you have to pull them out by the roots.


Flesh and Blood

Early morning, first blood on Bossie's
thigh, my brother calls the AI man.
"In heat," he says. And the AI man comes,
brings his big book of bulls my brother
flips through like the Christmas wishbook
we'd dog-eared with our desire.

My brother fingers the one he wants.
AI man rolls the rubber glove up
his arm to his elbow, puts two
fingers inside Bossie's back-end pout.
My brother holds her still, his freckled
knuckles rubbing that soft spot along

her thigh he knows she loves. I roll
Bossie's iron ear between my palms.
She gums sweet hay and moans
when he goes in, her breath a green bright
field against my face. "Does she like it?"
I ask. Everyone laughs but me.

"Doubt it," the AI man says. I doubt
it too: his arm, the rubber, coming
out of her, hot and steaming. Still,
my brother's fingers stroke there and I
lower my head to Bossie's mascaraed
brown eye, let it reflect back the me

who did not fold the corners of my
fingers over what I'd wanted: his
slick stalk of skin, my lips falling open
again and again to the same worn
sheet. My brother brushes the young
gold flank. "Good girl," he says. "Good girl."


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