Sara Quinn Rivara
About the Writer
Sara Quinn Rivara is the author of the chapbook Lake Effect (Aldrich Press, 2013) and the forthcoming collection Animal Bride (ELJ Editions, 2017). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Fem, Devil’s Lake, RHINO, Word Riot, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Blackbird, Midwestern Gothic, Cream City Review, Bluestem, Tinderbox
Poetry Journal, Poemeleon, 32 Poems, The Cortland Review, HerKind, and many others. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart, won Midwestern Gothic’s Lake Prize, and been featured at Late Night Library. She holds an MFA from WarrenWilson College, and lives in Portland, Oregon with her family.
The sun hung from a noose
and all the blackflies were swarming
and was it so hard, leaving, did
he say he’d always loved
you and it was you who didn’t, did
he say you had an affair (did
you wish there was an affair) did he
set the neighbors to spy, say he’d take
your son forever, all the money
if you lawyered up, say he’d
take an ax and chop
you to bits? It was a life
you had before, books
beach rose, glacial drift,
a trip to the coast, did
you get it back? Tell
me what I’ve read isn’t
true, tell me you didn’t
return and if you felt
his hand on your neck, if
you watched your son’s red
and weeping face disappear
behind the window of his rusted
truck, that you grabbed the boy
and ran. Tell me that you
will stand with me at the rim
our babies pressed to our breasts,
that we will never go back.
That all those years in hell
taught us to fly.
This is a woman in a bikini. This is a hamburger,
condom left on the bedroom floor. Children
wild as raccoons. The sky wide as the space between
a woman’s thighs. On the corner of Forest Avenue
a girl lay down behind the forsythia, a line
of boys waited their turn. We watched and sucked
our fingers for salt. Girls drunk on Listerine in the culvert.
Years have burned between now, then. I married,
divorced. My son says whore when he means horse.
I wipe the dirt from his cheek. A woman’s body
is edible as ground beef, elderberry, wild
onion in the overgrown creek. Pliable as rendered
grease. Along the highway Johnson grass clutters
the ditch, sumac, syringe, dead ash. Everything burns.
Once Upon A Time
The bride had no heart, just a clock that ticked away the hours. A field of bloody flowers. The place where the zipper sticks, the skin unmakes; a naked woman in a bed of snakes. Lonely turnip. Ham-hock, stone. Oh, just say it: the best woman is a silent one. Marriage a clot. Cutlass moon against her throat. Cupboards filled with mice. Her long hair glimmered with rice. Did she leave her shoes by the door? She did. The mute swan sings in the reedy pond. Red flowers wave their dangerous wands.