by Karen Deaver

Women in Love

Her art, his mine, saliva mingles
in the Midlands grass cut sweet and
tongues lap to the rescue

of the drowned. No one was
to know their hearts were promised
between mountains and the moors
conveyed without a trace.

Even in their prime and hungry Gudrun,
Gerald, et al were frozen out there after dark.

Modernity murdered them
as secrets swallowed
whole the lake one night.

Rip in time

Lover, you slipped through
a rip in time when the home
was burning.

I didn’t and the children
were awake their post and beam
protected from a virgin
forest flaming.

Once I imagined newlyweds in
farm rooms tossing bottles
into a hole deep underground.
Blown glass still marks their need:
hair oil, cough medicine, perfume.

Post wreck dish porcelain
shards crammed under-
neath my skin like fat;
in you I tasted tinder
and tomatoes.

I ogled one white peony surviving

and pictured this: their bodies hidden
in the well while resting regal
necks bent back like spoons.

Once you came I never could be safe again.

That fire torched the lines
when you slipped through.

Death of Nostalgia

I used to be wild
to do what I desired
when I desired to

until I tired of being told
I was condemned by girls
whose boys would fly away
with me while spilling all.

One stayed polishing platinum
with his tongue and won me
rolling edges over time.

He put a stake into the ground
where chained I breasted
every infant’s mouth, 
watched them breathing,
skulls that pulsed between my hands.

In bed I’m always twenty
and there’s one that got away.
Lovers we are molten
in the darkening afternoon
until one body rings until
you fall asleep inside.

Desire is as strong as metal.

When I awoke your words were
faithful to the never kiss.

Today I want to eat the chain
risk flight. The race is on
my birds have flown and
crony wings beat back time.


We loved strawberries in May
each ripening as if to last

and ate them crushed and soupy
or as trophies coveted by thirst

our summer knees in dirt zucchini
offering abundance across vines

and underneath sleek silver queen
we mouthed cobs with butter
running from the sun
of autumn when we touched each other’s hair
for comfort, bristles, head pulled back

while Julia Child opened up her French
so we could taste the shallots

burying us like spring when daffodils erupted
words like birth or fresh, magnolias too

each starred alone in one
cacophonic perfume.
Pressing faces to the flesh—

I would have stayed with you
I would have called the scent my own.

About the Author:

Karen Deaver teaches writing at The College of New Jersey. She lives in Pennington, NJ, and has previously published essays and articles in The New York Times, Princeton Packet, The Explicator, and Parents magazine on a variety of topics from poetry to salsa dancing.