“Amber” by Maya Jewell Zeller

Maya Jewell Zeller


Because you tell me
you want to strip
at State Line,
I tell you
how a woman will always feel
like a body folded around another body,
the layered one
she wants to slough off
like a heavy shawl, furred skin
lifted in alien winds,
skeletal, petal-thin.
Were you named for their honey,
Amber, orange and dripping
from your father’s
comb? His face black with net,
hands the hard skin of a man
who works with diesel day
after day. The hands spin
you, your head
humming, legs long as clover
stamen spindling from a fastened core.
Twirl, the pole your wand,
sky-anchored, your hair a hundred wings,
dust-rubbed, hot whir of clapping,
green field, feet sticky,
eyes the flecked stone bottom
of creek-bed, a man’s beard
by your thigh. But you turned
left when he said
left. Where are the flowers
you expected?
They’ll ask you to sit
on their laps, Amber,
lick the rims
of their beers. Yes, I think—
yes. I can hear the bees now.
They want out
of their striped
and heavy clothes.

2007 Rattle Poetry Prize Honorable Mention

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