A woman, made famous after fellating a powerful man, dreams of Francis Ford Coppola’s oranges tearing a hole through her brown sack, bouncing past the crow perched on the curb cawing: Pa! Pa! Pa! Pa! Dreams of an orange slice covering the teeth of an old man with one bad eye under the black grape vineyard. Of the rind pared off with a sharp knife into a perfect coil. Of the sections pulled apart like small bloody lungs, each an aspirated sigh. The oranges portend death by deals and death by bullets and death by garrote and lightning bolts. Dreams she excretes a senator a president a judge a river a volcano in Sicily. She thinks, if only a mandolin played in the background of my life, it would be far less nuanced. She’d eat black olives and fresh cheese; rice; sip espresso in bone demitasse. There would be windows in badly painted rooms, thick with white leaded paint. People would fall from the windows and she’d call them suicides or hopeful for some believed they could fly. If a mandolin played, the fall would be profound. She’d look up from her lunch she’d spread on the lawn by the black grape vineyard: the thick mozzarella, the squid ink vermicelli, the plums.
While at a poetry reading, she ponders how some women are born from their father’s heads and ask to remain virgins forever. Bunny Putnam, great-great-great-grandson of witch hunters and witch accusers, a man secure enough to be called Bunny, has a plaque on the wall at the Athenaeum, across from the bookshelves where the taxidermied owls sit, dusty. Women born from their fathers’ heads take on the worst aspects of their fathers: they brood like owls, awake all night and they hunt so silently any maps or photos taped to the wall fall off. Or, fuses blow and a darkness drops so sudden you wonder, Did I die? or Am I truly not here? which is what the case is: truly, you are not here. Or truly, you did die because the sirens are wailing outside the Athenaeum. No one likes sitting in a pitch black room. No one likes crouching inside a hollow skull. Athena grew inside Zeus’s head and poked the bone plates with her spear until his pain caused lightning storms all over the North Shore. He swore never to swallow a woman again, even if he was caught philandering. She’d assumed Bunny was a woman, especially when trying to decide if she was here, or there, or with the owls. How strong he must have been to earn that moniker, Bunny: the gentlest, horniest beast of all that God made, the easiest prey.
Jennifer Martelli’s debut poetry collection, The Uncanny Valley, was published in 2016. Her poetry has appeared in Up the Staircase Quarterly, Vector Press and Tar River Poetry. Her prose has appeared in Drunken Boat, Gravel Literary Journal, and Glint. She is the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry and is an associate editor for The Compassion Anthology.