Pastoral by Molly Minturn

One afternoon we met in the forest,
as was our habit. We walked in deep

as we could, the pines growing taller;
I’d just come from the dentist, let him

coat my teeth in fluoride with a little brush,
his gloved hands hooked gently on my lip.

You kissed me by an empty stone building,
not a cottage, something industrial.

A man came upon us and apologized
and we begged his forgiveness instead.

You covered my face with your dark, warm coat;
we were all very sorry—

Be sure of having used to the full
all that is communicated by immobility and silence

The light was wrong, as if it were filtered
through a bottle with a ship inside.

I wondered if the fluoride would leave a trail
in your mouth and beneath your skin,

only appear at night like phosphorescence
in the sea. Now, in dreams, your eyes

are no longer yours—still, you
gesture grandly without words.


After Robert Bresson


Molly Minturn‘s poems and essays have appeared in Boston ReviewLongreadsThe Iowa ReviewSycamore ReviewBennington ReviewThe Toast, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. Her poetry chapbook, Not in Heaven, was published in 2018 by Southword Editions in Ireland. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.