Issue 5 / Poetry

Poetry by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

DOMESTICITY

 

My second relationship looked something like this:

 

spun from what was left

in the kitchen each night, all fish

 

and sinew. He had the largest hands,

butcher-palms, blood under the nails,

 

and his teeth were white scarecrows

after too many fights. The salt-blue eyes

 

stared as he forced my head back

into the sink and hair down

 

into the drain, flipped the switch.

 

The teeth whirred, and the knives nearby

became birds charading

 

in children’s clothes. I tilted my head

farther back until I could see the sky

 

through the small window:

 

the stars were going by in small pools.

 

 

dingbatsmaller

BABYSITTING: THE CRISIS

 

We are sitting in a worn-out cafe, with fruit

a little too far gone, and she decides to explain it

 

to me like this: the neighbors’ boy was there

while the parents were away, the summer heat

 

beating down, all the birds like feathered shade

along the electric wires. She poured the oil

 

and sunscreen into his small hands, drenching

the palms, and she asked him to rub the concoction

 

across her skin. Her back, at first, and then her arms.

Her legs. And when he arrived in front of her, standing

 

between her knees, she remembers how he—gently,

child-like—touched two fingers to one side of her face,

 

and then the other, rubbing the oil into her blushing cheeks.

He was so close, she could feel the coolness

 

of his breath where the oil was drying, and she kissed him.

She says it was fast and soft, and the boy was quiet,

 

looking around as if searching for more clothes. I am part geranium.

I imagine this boy, the lotion on his hands, pressing

 

and releasing, and then the kiss—which opened up

every sense in the world. How he, too, could lean in

 

and start something small.

 

dingbatsmaller

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives and writes in South Bend, Indiana, where she teaches composition at Indiana University South Bend. She received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University, where she worked as the Layout and Design Editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose. Her poems have appeared in Encore Magazine, Sleet Magazine, Rogue Agent, Thank You for Swallowing, and Analecta; and her book reviews have appeared on The Rumpus. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com. Selected by Oliver de la Paz.

Image © Stephanie Sicore via Flickr Creative Commons.

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