She’s savvy and slender. Her mama says
she’s sassy. Her papa says she’s a sip
of wine. Her preacher proclaims she’s bathtub
hooch making all the praying men go blind.
She’s the subject of every hush and hiss
spewing from pursed lips dribbling over
countertops, bars, and bone china tea sets.
Blue-haired-horn-rimmed-glasses gab on
about her seven children and the six or seven
fathers that go along with them. The cops
have tried to link her to three murders,
and every burned-out house has her name
written in its ashes. Does she believe
in God? Whom does she love? The town folk
know of course, Jeremiah Earl, her brother,
who went dull after he was kicked in the noggin
by a horse. Way back when they were children,
she ass-whipped every boy who called her brother
something less than human. Now she works
two jobs waiting tables so he won’t end up
locked up in some mental institution. Each beau
she brings home tries to convince her to have her
brother committed. Each mac she drags back
ends up sideswiped by a skillet. And tonight
like every night’s a good night to go on living.
It’s good weather for a low-cut summer dress
and cowgirl boots cut from red leather. It’s a fine
time to shove a lime in a bottle of Corona under
a porch light with the town’s new tow truck driver.
She knows the brightness a bit of loneliness
can inspire. The moon’s nothing but dust and rocks,
but it’s still luminous when he leans in to kiss her.
She slides one hand up the heat of his thigh.
The other under her seat, fists a knife.