I don’t want to end up
like I started: dependent,
naked, eyes sealed shut. Because,
they weren’t kidding—whether
Electra or Oedipus, we do end up
marrying one parent or the other.
Because I don’t trust myself—
I can barely resist the dark draw
of your skin and your smell,
when the air moves just right.
Because wondering where you are
while I sit alone
isn’t how I pictured things.
Because every day at work
I tell women all the reasons
they deserve to stand up for themselves
and I won’t be a hypocrite. Because,
as you were asking me to believe you
after the first slip-up, you were
crossing fingers, looking for chances.
Because, as you were forgetting my worth,
I was remembering.
My friend’s middle finger
is stuck in a perpetual fuck you—
one souvenir of the accident.
The bright side: she’s always prepared
if someone pisses her off.
Motoring to a fashion show, a Hummer
smashed through, flattening her roof
like tin foil. She lay tangled in a welter
of silk and metal, crepe and dashboard.
I tell her, Most would be bitter,
coming back with a sluggish leg,
one unruly eye, and that eternal
flip of the bird.
She tells me, All of life’s gifts
are flowers in my garden— as she smiles
and gives me the finger.
Two Rosaries and a Pair of Shoes
The flight attendant passes out hot towels
for our hands, and the bald guy in front of me
wipes his entire head with it. Smiling, I glance
down and, in the light from the plane window,
notice a faint indentation on my finger
where my wedding ring wrapped itself
for ten years. Four years removed and I can still
see it, in just the right light, on a plane to Boston,
behind a bald man’s clean and shiny head. I listen
to Rachmaninoff, Opus 23, on my headphones
as we pass through nothing but white.
The man next to me spits food on my scarf
as he introduces himself, and we both act
like it didn’t happen—I don’t ask him anything
when dessert comes. A voice comes over the PA,
asking if anyone claims a bag
containing two rosaries and a pair of shoes.
No one presses their button, and, assuming
it’s someone from the previous flight, I wonder
if the person who owns those things
realizes they are making their way without them.
About Barb Reynolds
Barb Reynolds was an emergency response child abuse investigator for 22 years. Her chapbook Boxing Without Gloves was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014. Her poems have appeared in various journals, most recently, CALYX, Poet Lore, POEM, Mudfish, WomenArts Quarterly Journal (Oct), and Roanoke Review (Dec). Barb is the curator of the Britt Marie Poetry Series in Albany, CA. She is currently working on a biography and documentary called Auntie Mark.