Reunion

Full Moon with Silhouette Trees

Rustling leaves in moonlight
blue shadows on white sheets.

How did we meet again
in this prairie city of bridges?
We should have found each other on the Metro.
Paris is used to this sort of affair.

Your eyes glow like amber
Shhhh,
you say
when I warn you
of the dangers.

Be careful, be careful,
I say
before I get drunk on
your tongue.

A simple rise and fall
but your breathing
sends a flutter
through my body
like a butterfly
in a glass jar.

Undulations–
breathing you into me
blue shadows writhing on white sheets.

My body forgets
distance and years apart—
the ache of longing gone for tonight.

—Candice G. Ball

 

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September

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Snakeroot, may apple, cotton root,
hot baths and pennyroyal—
she’s collecting seeds, potions in brown jars.

How she wanted to miscarry,
but she still felt it in her breasts,
heavy pressed against Saturday night’s dress.

Rue, the morning-after-
pill, mustard baths
but the seed went astray, multiplying.

She remembers July, the sultry sky
when she kissed him—
how the last star winked, said yes.
Yes at 3:00 a.m. tangled in secrets
and sweat. Oh, the wine, stars and seeds!

No wishes upon these late stars,
already spent. Leaves fall
yellow, brown and ash.

She chokes on the fumes—
nauseous in a Greyhound heading
south for the procedure.
The child inside her runs and hides,
a fugitive in her body.

In Fargo, gin and tonic and strong cigarettes
to gather lost thoughts,
crossing borders, ripe fields and dairy cattle.

Alone in the prairie landscape: terrible grey seeds
and sky sink in her belly. Fallen leaves.
She wants to forget September.

—Candice G. Ball

BFF

Two women holding hands

She’s the first one you called after you woke up, got dressed, and stumbled out of an apartment—and she made you laugh even though your head hurt and you could barely remember your own name. She’s the one you trust as much as your own dog to sniff out suitors. She knows how many lovers you’ve had and how many you regret.

She answers the phone burping out hello because she knows it’s you without checking call display. You can’t use your fake-happy phone voice with her when you want to cry or shout because she’ll call you on it. Her voice picks you up faster than a triple-shot latte and she gives you more comfort than a huge bowl of pasta. She’s your ninja cheerleader in a power suit and she will take down anyone who fucks with you.

You send her half-naked selfies and ask if your boobs need more oomph. She’s the only one who’s privy to your retail-therapy sessions and your pizza benders. She has navigated every dark, dirty corner of your character. She’s the keeper of all your secrets and your best-of and worst-of moments. She’s your wonder woman and wonderwall and her love made you the beautiful, resilient woman you see reflected back at you in her eyes.

—Candice G. Ball

 

 

My Grandmother’s Flower Garden

Blooming sweet peas

The scent of sweet peas, a vintage tin full of assorted buttons, French toast with butter and icing sugar and my grandmother’s touch between my eyebrows, rubbing away my five-year-old troubles.

July sun on snapdragons, pansies and marigolds. She teaches me the names of flowers and how to nurture beauty. Later, at her kitchen table, we play I spy with my little eye and then she lets me guess her thoughts so I think I’m psychic. I fall asleep on the living-room floor under a pink comforter while she watches Johnny Carson and does her crossword puzzle.

Hidden money and notes, gathering up loose thoughts in a journal. She must have been so scared. Chronologies scrambled and names of simple items forgotten: salt shaker, coffee filter and dish soap.

No longer a child in my grandmother’s garden, I tell her the names of the flowers she planted—snapdragons, pansies and marigolds. I tell her my name. If I brought her sweet peas, would she remember her own name?

Four decades between me and my grandmother’s fingertips on my face, but she still makes me feel safe. My grandmother’s touch, Oil of Olay scent, and her telepathic, magical love. The last time I saw her, she had a glint in her Irish eyes when she said I know you.

—Candice G. Ball

Red Wine

redwine

Some jazz and a glass of shiraz
wild black currant and black pepper—
making me sloppy-tongued and rosy.

Even though I try to pace myself
I am a varietal drunk—
wine and trouble is the only pairing I know.

Oh pinot noir!
Your ripe cherry scent seducing me
with notes of clove and allspice—
you played me like a blood-red violin.

Red red wine you make me feels so fine
until the memory curtain drops to black
long before last call.

The morning after—
a purple-stained mouth
and sobriety crushed over sour grapes.

—Candice G. Ball

 

Into the Night

Silver moon
starless sky.
Tonight the wind howls
while the woman’s fingertips flutter
against her window
like moths
trying to escape the night.

Luminous—
her pearly flesh
is pulled tight
across tiny bones.

She could be one of Picasso’s ladies—
tortured by impossible angles
tongue-tied
trapped in a barren landscape.

Only an ethereal dance
of carved flesh and shadows.