Caki Wilkinson

Slow Fade

Wynona Stone, her dress flat doesn’t fit:
the drape’s all wrong, she looks like she’s been hit

by a baby shower; plus her hair’s a wreck—
think Shirley Temple on a rooftop deck

come late July. Wind smacks the tablecloths
and snuffs the votives; overzealous moths

self-immolate. Well isn’t this a bitch,
she mutters, stiff-lipped. Though she’s sure to ditch

the cordial shtick, a friend she’s sampling
has taken her under an ample wing

which, fanning out this evening, spans a flock
of locals-about-town. Fine-feathered stock

(seersuckered, atomized), they’re lovely, ripe
for conversation—not Wynona’s type.

The plot unfolds, backwater roman-fleuve:
hand-shaking husbands, wives who say make love

as in “When Doug and I were making love,”
or “Doug made love to me,” or “Doug, that love

we made was really something.” Out of touch
with social cues, Wynona drinks too much—

which suits her role: the shoe about to drop.
Were she to belt “The Good Ship Lollipop”

they’d chuckle, What a ham, and, feeling smug,
rehash it after making love to Doug…

Instead, she whirls her glass, eviscerates
a napkin, little loves-me-nots, and waits

to find a way around the mise-en-scène.
No matter where she is, she’s looking in

on someone else’s story. That’s the threat:
becoming extra on a crowded set.

Wynona wonders, If you fill a space,
are you still extra
? but she holds her face

at whooptedoo; grinning chagrin intact,
a round of whooptedoo helps things contract,

and that’s her super power, as it were:
she’s good at shrinking what could swallow her.

Caki Wilkinson is the author of the poetry collection Circles Where the Head Should Be (UNT Press, 2011), which won the 2010 Vassar Miller Prize. Her second collection won the Lexi Rudnitsky/Editor's Choice Award and is forthcoming from Persea Books in 2014.
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