after the filmmaker Philip Kaufman
In the white kitchen one woman
slides a thin bread into his mouth.
She took the loaf from the oven,
a white towel wrapped around her hand.
The same cotton towel hangs on the oven door.
The next two rooms of the house
are like having two men want you.
The inside’s always orange, never blue:
Put your two hands inside a pumpkin
and squeeze a woman’s melting core
in your fists. Tear away the sides
of a fruit, lick the fibrous cantaloupe.
Black iron pots are piled in a closet.
The roots of five flowers float in water.
White sheets heave in the bedroom.
He tastes hot bread in his teeth.
He walks through the room
that is so blue
it is like two people in bed,
backs together, refusing each other.
Upstairs they are orange, orange,
new rust on the kitchen’s iron pans,
the woman’s parted opening between legs.
He calls to her from the stairs,
breath too soft to blow out a flame.
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.