Rachel Custer

To the Woman in a Plague Mask Outside the Living Room Window

Like you I no longer trust the world with my face !100! its relative loudness
like river water worrying over rocks

the toppled vessel of my mouth !50! which keeps forgetting
what it was made to carry and where

in the valley of safety all the men wear low hats !50! and women plant
themselves like concrete !50! like you I am more fearsome

when I am able to be still !50! like you I have mostly
watched from a quiet perch

my decades ripen predictable as fruit !50! statues of women
are useful for marking !50! the planting of things: root vegetables and

bodies and serrated knives !50! bodies of women are useful
for planting !50! for the small violence of seeds !50! from inside I force

myself to rest my eyes !50! on the kitchen counter with its empty bottles
of wine !50! or on the table with its empty bottles of wine

or anywhere else but the tablets of your breasts !50! grown heavier
beneath the drawn shade of your face !50! like you I am limiting access

to the new bloom of my lips !50! anymore even the minutes file
me smooth !50! in the valley of men all the safety

wears vestments of honeybees and knuckles forth words like a fist
and stitches a new woman !50! into her unlined face

Rachel Custer's first full-length collection, The Temple She Became, is available from Five Oaks Press. Other work has previously been published or is forthcoming in Rattle, The American Journal of Poetry, B O D Y, DIALOGIST, and The Penn Review.
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    Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí