Karla Huston: Two Poems
Most of All | Wild Thing
Most of All
He’s got it right, the friend who wrote a poem
about a woman wearing a man’s shirt,
about how it’s the warmth of him she needs,
the way she can pull his scent to her nose
and feel his arms around her again.
I think a man likes to see a woman
dressed in his shirt: the sleeves
dangling and the buttons and holes
fitting together backwards. The stupid
grin he wears when she tells him
she’s going to pee, and he asks to watch.
She is aware of how her knees touch
how disturbing the bubble of her stream,
how she pulls the paper off the roll,
then she presses the lever for the final flush.
As she rises, she wraps the shirt more tightly
this time, tries to fit her body into every
stitch and seam. She likes the way the shirt
holds her, so soft and so manlike:
that, and the sigh of his breath
in every thread. Yes, that most of all.
In the snapshot, we’re the three A & P girls:
me in a yellow, eyelet two-piece and Paulette
her hair dyed dark and Fran’s bleached
to a candy froth. Those days, we had nothing
more important to do than stretch, indolent
in the sun and wait for boys to fall
into our baby-oiled aura. We were queens
of the beach, toe-ringed summer girls
who sometimes traveled to La Crosse
where the boys were more handsome
and more dangerous. The bad girls
took boys under the bridge to listen
to sweet talk, to kiss and touch,
but we stayed on the sand near the guard shack
where Pete sold Popsicles and Fritos for a nickel
and speakers blared Stop! In the Name of Love.
Most days I’d run down the sand bank
to swim to the raft where I hoped
maybe my lifeguard boyfriend would notice
that I was too enticing to be there alone.
One day as I dove off the board, the clasp
of my swimsuit snapped, and as I swam
at the surface, my breasts felt a cool,
new freedom. What now? as I one-armed
dogpaddled, no way to go in, no way to go back.
And there was Randy, grinning from the guard stand,
hoping for a glimpse of those breasts
he’d later get slapped for touching,
that and for calling "All eyes on the board!"
when I broke into the surface.
Winner of the 2003 Main Street Rag chapbook contest, Karla Huston has
published poetry, reviews and interviews in several journals including
Cimarron Review, 5 A.M., Margie, North American Review, One Trick Pony,
Pearl, Rattle, and others. She received residencies from the Ragdale
Foundation in 1998 and 2002 and earned recently earned an MA in
English/Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Two new
chapbooks are forthcoming: Virgins on the Rocks, from Parallel Press;
and Catch and Release, from Marsh River Editions