1 Poem by Jennifer Bartell

 

White Shoulders

Her perfume burned a hole in his pocket. 
The scent of her was as close as the smell 
of dirt and dust after plowing 
when the wind carries traces of it and triggers 
his days working in Tarheel tobacco fields. 
Now fresh earth-wounds open to accept a seedling that will 
never sprout, stays buried until the trumpet waters it to life. 
 
A plume of cigarette smoke hovers over the corn stalks 
as he palms the cobs. He shrugs at the thought of White Shoulders, 
reminisces on how the scent embalmed her skin, 
how when they were apart he kept her skin in his pocket. 
And for her final depart, he could smell her skin still, 
even through the purple-laden coffin. 
He sniffed out White Shoulders even when he passed 
a fire-curing tobacco barn in mid-August. 
In a wave of air that rushed his barn door, 
he detected the bouquet again. His heart 
considered the electric slide, but could only be still. 
And in his pocket: a receipt for Dr. Pepper.

 

 

Jennifer Bartell is an MFA candidate at the University of South Carolina. Her poetry has been published in Jasper Magazine, The Art of Medicine in Metaphors, Letras Caseras, The Double Dealer, 2013, and decomP. Follow her on Twitter @bartelliyo.