9.1 / January 2014

Five Poems

My Mother is a Cowboy

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firelit and lonesome, her song always the same.

My mother is a dry place to sleep,

a right time to die. My mother is lost

in a wilderness. My mother is sending up flares.

Only my mother can prevent forest fires.

My mother is a stiff drink, better than

your mother. (She’s standing in the kitchen in her underwear,

pouring Lucky Charms into a dish.) My mother is

really quite charming. You ought to see her

riding six white horses, one hand thrown up over her head.

We Got in Trouble

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Because somebody threw out all the cigarettes.
Because somebody learned that at school.
Because somebody wouldn’t confess, and because
everybody hates a tattletale, especially our mother.
So we spent the whole day inside with nothing to draw on
but the soft parts of each others’ bodies. Mary Jane
drew the kittens, the twins drew each other, and Ruby
draws a heart every time. Winnie, Kid, Honey, Jack and I
stood on our heads until our faces were red
as tomatoes. River snuck out. Dahlia played dead.

Ghost Story

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What I like is the way she makes him promise every single night
how to bury her. And how the wind picks up. I like the version where
he isn’t greedy he just misses her too much. The one where he’s so sad
he loses everything. Because even when he robs her grave he can’t
just sell the thing, has to live with it under his pillow and the wind howling
Who stole my golden arm? My favorite part is how the wind sounds
exactly like her voice. My favorite part is when he gets his wish at the end.

Month of Sundays

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It’s only the 5th and already we’ve run out of church clothes. We don’t dare do the wash.

No mail again today. Supper’s served at noon. Our coupons are stacked up to here.

Granny once saw Jesus lying naked on the pulpit, though Daddy swore she’d only nodded off. Then he turned up the volume on the football game.

Our liquor store’s gone out of business. We have all the hymns by heart.

Our Imaginary Childhood

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There were eleven of us altogether: Winnie, River, Mary Jane, Dahlia, Honey, Ruby,
Sofie, Izzy, Kid, Jack, and me. We slept in a pile like puppies. Each night we dreamed
the same dream, wherein one of us declares her love for the others. In the morning,
nobody could quite remember just who had said just what. Our parents spent whole
days in bed. We brought them aspirins and glasses of water, buttered toast cut on
the diagonal. They loved us but they had headaches. What we learned from them
was this: to never be sorry for anything.

Sara Watson is studying for a PhD at the University of Cincinnati. Her poems have appeared in Fourth River, Harpur Palate, and Sugar House Review, among others. She is assistant editor of The Cincinnati Review.
9.1 / January 2014