Wednesday, April 27, 2011

National Poetry Month - Sarah E. Smith

Here is the latest poem for National Poetry Month, Sarah E. Smith's "That Year We Replaced Our Mouths With Orchids" from the Fall/Winter 07-08 (vol. 4, no. 2) issue.

That Year We Replaced Our Mouth With Orchids

Nobody won the World Series. We were too busy pollinating
our telephones to watch. The radios grew dense with bee stings, grew
leaves; it was easy to tell who had been kissing too much. Some
girls wore deep bruises and carried paper fans. Myself, I took
to wearing a veil until dusk. Spinsters and virgins, perfect vandas
on their faces, blanched and turned cold in palpable shame. Self-help
books advised to "press the back of your hand against your orchid
to simulate the gentle pressure of a kiss. This will help you appear
less desperate." So it became impossible to know anything simply
by looking at the orchid on someone's face, whether it flourished
or hung loose like a tooth. Nobody married that year. On New Year's
Eve we waited for midnight with secret bottles of champagne, tubes
of lipstick and piles of matches, so ready to have our mouths
again. When the orchids fell off, we ate chocolates and whole fish,
but it was not the end of our problems. Opera singers sung arias
in reverse, and startled children in Detroit knew French. Our voices
fell from our mouths like anvils and we couldn't pretend to be anything
but stupid and vague. We whispered. Some of us wanted to change back.

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