Self-Portrait At Twenty-One As Wish Without a Meadow by Sally Rosen Kindred

            Sometimes, back then, I was a girl.
            And I was roomdark: a candle and a spell.

In the mirror, a flicker brings blue horses.
Flare as the fearsong that calls to their hooves,
their lips closing on black apples,

bruised glass. Let, quivers
the wet wick. Let.

In the mirror a flare. Light’s starved clatter and wrack.
Repetition transforms:
each day her legs thicken. Her black phone rings. As the

water boils, the cup fills, the hands
            I had back then
fetch the white bowl from the kitchen. Over the clavicle the skin

blooms. Let me. Her mouth remains still, a seam, a pearl, but the candle
tells with light, in the safe place—
syntax of tremble, withhold.

Belief tongues the grassy air.

A vision could shine manes in night silk.
A vision could be galloping at high speed
from the waiting room

where, on the other side of the wall,
            —I remember how it moaned a radio hum—
the doctor is also counting down.

In the white bowl, home, the movie starts again.
The horses growl like rainchoked violins. The bowl is afraid,
spinning vicious like a moon.

            When I burned the eggs I burned the whole pan.

Hooves slam sand blue as a bruise.
Only safe when she’s wax, slipping—Let me,
Let. The candle sings to the ends of her dress
and the dust is rising.

            When I burned the pan I ran
            out into the empty parking lot.
            Everyone else was at work.
            Everyone else had grown up.
            I hid it for good in the trash.

Repetition transforms.
There are whole rooms, she learns, made for waiting.
Chrome after chrome chair willing to hold her.

            I hid it for good, for good.
            Next I hid my shoes.

Tender as the dead, the mares dip their necks
to the longhaired stars. Let me thirst and heat. They huff
at her hunger: let.

            In the sapphire dark and nicker of that year, I learned.

Let me bite. Let me cook the light.

            Again how to meadow and mouth.
            Again, soft manes, how to ask you
            and burn: gutter, gutter and tell.
Sally Rosen Kindred is the author of two poetry books from Mayapple Press, Book of Asters and No Eden, and Darling Hands, Darling Tongue, a chapbook from Hyacinth Girl Press. Her poems have appeared in Quarterly West and The Journal, and are forthcoming in Pleiades and The Gettysburg Review.