Spring 2010

Table of Contents - Vol. VI, No. 1


Poetry    Fiction    Reviews   

Laurie Byro


Homage to my Derrière

for Lucille Clifton

In those days, Lucille, each night of poetry would end
with some man waxing eloquently over some woman's
derrière. They'd reach with cupped hands toward a slim
crescent moon, thin as the bone of a boy's hips, just

like my own. Derrière: I loved the word, adopted it,
when mine was no longer elegant, when it no longer
followed me pertly into a room holding court to a coven
full of men. In those days, Lucille, I'd reign supreme

with my bad-ass-body, the envy of my friends, but
like all moons that wax or wane, according to the custom,
now when I rise to my sleeping kingdom, I know
the slap of porcelain against my derriere and realize

I am no longer perfect. In those days my hips weren't
spiteful, they wouldn't get between a man and his woman,
I was never a black or red Alice in Wonderland Queen. But
today my derriere has been round the block more than once,

Lucille, and I have swallowed the insult with good humor.
Like all women, I have heard the slur about my buttocks,
about my breasts that one drunk referred to as "clementines."
Darling, I have fallen off this chilly white throne.


Wife's Tale

Whistling girls and crowing hens always
come to some bad end. Anon

I learn to whistle at fifty, my lips slick with alert
concentration. I practice my labial meditation
as my car purrs through the night. I practice privately

moving my hooded unmusical mouth, no fine-line
suck and draw from raunchy Virginia Slims. I practice
secretly, making a date to wait by the bathroom mirror

pursing my wet, unguarded mouth where no one can
judge that I’m not doing it right. I falter with clumsy
positions, difficult rhythms, Jethro Tull and I get

very chummy at this time. I curse my mother for never
letting me learn to play the flute. I have no sun or moon
to hide my body against. I shiver as cold bathroom tile

tickles my bare toes. I learn the hard way, resisting
probing fingers, I want no shrill easy echoing sound
to course through the wild air. I practice for

my husband and every man I’ve ever kissed. I imagine
the trip to Quebec must have helped, all those slutty
fumbled plays of syllable and tongue. It takes

a certain kind of woman to be able to wet her whistle
at fifty, to be able to coax garlicky escargot
out of its coffiny shell. Some women are left high

and dry at a splintery single’s bar. Yes, I’m crowing---
I learn to whistle at fifty. I’m sick of hens with their
eager stash of grandbaby pictures boring me and every

other passerby to death. I can’t help but remember
my own grandmother, who never learned to knit or
crochet baby booties, who could curse like a longshoreman

and who left her dull-as-dishwater life at my age
to become a magician on a cruise ship. I wonder
what naughty thing will try and get me next.


© Laurie Byro



Poetry    Fiction    Reviews   

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