9.5 / May 2014

The Girls


A man comes in. I tell him I won’t kiss him. He tries to take my sweater off but I tell him to leave it on because I am getting over a cold. I tell him not to take off my skirt but to push it up around my hips. He gets up and walks down the hallway to another girl. She takes him in her arms and he drops his gloves. I pick them up. A thread hangs from the cuff and inside they are still warm in the fingertips.

Threading the bobbin and licking the thread with his lips, the glover moves around the sewing machine. I ask if he can stitch them to fit my hands. He says he once made gloves out of seven oxhides insewn with iron, yet so soft a chicken could not feel its eggs being removed from its roost. He measures my hand from wrist to fingertip, and says “bears form their cubs by licking them into shape.”

When he finishes the work and hands them back they are not gloves but mittens.


I believe that ice skating could become popular again and that we can all join each other on the pond. I will give the young skaters hints. I will tell them that a good skate has a cast-heel runner and is slightly grooved. I will tell them that the bottom of the runner should be quite straight to the heel where the turn is made at the toe. I believe that someday I can lay down my knitting because skating will be fashionable. They will go on the ice and try. They will balance. I will lend them helping. I will tell them not to choose skates that have the long fanciful curve.


I attended mostly as an onlooker. To his cottage came thousands. He placed and lifted curses. He divined with pebbles. They paid him for desire. They paid him in fear of his secret knowledge.

I would bring a piece of fruit every day. No passage of time would dim this. The white handkerchief I used to tie the apple, the square knot I used to tie the corners.

I have taken the paschal candle and dripped wax between the cows’ ears and horns, drawn a cross in wax inside the stables. I have written billets of enchantments. The horses will not lose their shoes; the fishers in Borneo lay aside the ninth pearl in a jar.

No passage of time would dim this. The fruit’s core, the weakening of his hands, the whitening of his knuckles. Day after day I picked the handkerchief from the ground as he had left it, crumpled by a man’s foot. I picked this fruit for only him to consume.


I lie in bed under his grandmother’s crocheted quilts while he moves about, bringing out the sewing machine and setting it up. Threading the bobbin as the thread runs around the wheel, licking the thread with his lips. I ask him about the difference between thread, string, and twine. He tells about how a string can hang off loosely from the edge of cuff while his foot presses the peddle louder and louder but what I really want is to hear is a marble hitting a glass table. He stops sewing ribbons and unwinds the thread from the needle gradually. I watch.

Alison is a creature of the internet and a dog lover. She received her M.F.A. at George Mason University and resides in Arlington, VA. Her poems have appeared in Handsome, Shampoo, Denver Quarterly, Alice Blue Review and other fine publications. She can be reached via Google.?
9.5 / May 2014