Garlic smell drifts through the house;
the smell is like teenagers practicing mother
and father on the brown dusted ground.
I am cooking onions.
I am happy about everything domestic,
boiling pasta, reading newspapers,
vacuuming the apartment’s matted carpet.
I am happy about the senators who ask
questions on fiction and sexual harassment:
I want the senators to bring me roses
and chocolate candies stuffed with cherries.
I want to sit on porch swings with those men
on breezy humid squeaking soft evenings.

The garlic smell sits in this dark bedroom
with its pulled shades and red
paintings of horses. I am excited about babies.
I am excited about dusting. I want to be still
and satisfied in my sweet family apartment.
The onion smell lifts up toward the ceiling.
We are free. We can go out any way,
even through loving, and I can’t wait
to find us coupled in black smoke
flying up as sparks fly up from the children’s campfires.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Watching the Contortionists.

Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as Cavalier Literary Couture, The Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and Missouri. She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky, and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.

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