Tania Pryputniewicz, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, is a co-founding blogger for Tarot for Two and Mother Writer Mentor. Saddle Road Press published her debut poetry collection, November Butterfly, in 2014. Recent poems appeared or are forthcoming in the Everyday Haiku Anthology, One, Patria Letteratura, Poetry Flash, and TAB. Tania teaches online poetry and Tarot-writing courses privately and teaches a monthly poetry workshop for San Diego Writers, Ink. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband, three children, blue-eyed Husky and one portly housecat named Luna. Poetry movies for seven of Tania’s poems (made in collaboration with Robyn Beattie and set to music performed by Stephen Pryputniewicz and others) as well as a series of Tarot deck maker interviews can be found at www.taniapryputniewicz.com.
The neighbor in his fifties turns us in,
we’re sure of it, hid in hull of willows
or between dunes. We jump in pairs
from cliff, trespass river’s layers,
first three silt-green yards lukewarm,
the next corn-silk cool where sturgeon
lurk in oblong circles undetected like
the watcher. The surface of the water
is a jangle of silver bangles, outlines of our
bodies brined by moonlight. We rush up
the bank to dress, T-shirts inside out,
jeans chafing thighs, pebbles dusky blue
and uneven against our arches. Vodka
circulates in a red plastic cup; sand glitters
the last sip. We steady ourselves against
the redwood stumps, won’t know until
Tuesday we’re in trouble. All year,
we walk our block, alert for twitch
of curtains. Our mothers, in refusing
to name him, negate our sense of crime.
We knew how to swim, didn’t undress for him.
Silver grommets slide through slits of fly
with flick of wrist. You stand shirtless,
back to me, in jeans. Our teen’s ire of late
makes widows of us both. Neither tears
nor wine console. Nor this body I offer
in despair, lit by noon from above, our
tandem breath between, fed by bellows
of a forge we do not recognize. We’ve
done our part, lived our Camelot hours,
laid to rest my Bluebeard fears and yours
of Circe, as our little Icarus careens
with waxen wings towards the sun
of our love—foolish parents—
we fail, year after year, to restrain.
She lights a candle in her room.
It means she’s staying in: The friends
have lost their grip, she prefers this womb
of pumpkin spice, boyfriend and Circe’s loom
an afterthought. She’s ours, she bends
to light a candle in her room.
Let her revel in her ample boredom.
Her cat licking amber fur wends
past to perch on shelf like an heirloom,
glowers at my girl who glares back from
under torn sweatshirt’s hood she refuses to mend.
She lights another candle in her room.
Discarded on floor, her shirts—perfume—
I gather close to my throat, pretend
our moods, no longer twinned through womb,
don’t repel, volatile with need and blame
like salt dropped on watercolor by painter when
she sends light of candle’s flame to ceiling of the room
or radial reds of unborn’s heartbeat past mother’s womb.
Bless the Iowa River, accepting without complaint
the watermelon, strawberries, half gallon of honey,
the cantaloupe halves listing seeds. Bless the bridge
swallows arcing without colliding through pillars
every dusk. Bless the snow days that follow
the long winter after, substitute teaching, counties
phoning in on the radio by district: Mid-Prairie, Mount
Vernon, West Liberty, West Branch. Bless the secondhand
armchair, lion-gold velveteen worn, a book off the bargain
table from Prairie Lights. Bless the charts of the Famous
you’re handed without names when you walk in the door.
Bless the shock of recognition, Plutonian clarity, shock
of difference as when a Midwest Bride floating in Fiji
above divers for the first time, silver coins of escaped
air mingling with your hair so unlike the currency
of corn filling silos. Bring your face to the cerulean
surface. Allow your body to float. You brought fruit
to the river. What will you bring to the sea?