Laura McCullough received her MFA from Goddard College and has been awarded a New Jersey State Arts Council Fellowship for her work. She teaches at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey where she chairs the Visiting Writers Series. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Nightsun, Hotel Amerika, Boulevard, Faultline, Kalliope, Whiskey Island, White Pelican Review, Exquisite Corpse, and other journals.
Stand on the sidewalk
with a cup of warm soup, curry,
the color of wheat in late August, and let yourself
be seen. Itís the currency
of the street. Wear nothing
or everything you own. It doesnít matter. Theyíll devour
you with their eyes,
grateful for your humanity today.
What you see when you look back is the depth of space
behind each cheekbone,
the distance between the street
and an open window where sadness lurks in the shape
of a man who found
out today he canít have children.
His face is luminous, the color of curry or yarrow,
your finest eye shadow,
the one meant to capture autumn.
Itís there in his eyes more beautiful than anything.
In the lot of the hardware
store someone watching
you sees the color of your brotherís car accident
rolling off your shoulders
like heat off hot tar in July.
They recognize the smell of unresolved childhood
grief, and it fills them
the way good, yeasty bread does.
Let them look; youíre busy. The man in the window
is stretching now,
his white chest wide, spine cracking
and with it the odor of vanilla ice cream on a good manís
beard when he kissed you
goodbye. Turn away, walk along
the brick curb radiating all the accrued sunshine you can
on the surface of your skin
like a body glove. Greet passersby
with a direct gaze. Be confident they see right through you.
If someone begins to cry,
tell them a few blocks down
is a man in an open window with a chest like a snowy day.