after Paul Verlaine 
The sky all around 
her kisser has sisters 
who quit. All splendor left in irony. 
Her pollen made poison, 
or every girl 
descending the stamen while the air becomes acrid. 
One minute she’s pushing 
a basket, one hand 
in her coat: in that minute her chest becomes music. 
The horizontal 
plane of unused song 
becomes the drowned out gardens don’t listen. 
She’s singing still but 
the wind dignifies her eternal results 
by denuding the birds of their feathers and, oh, it delivers. 
The sunless arbor 
makes clear how 
dense the balance is for the wind, inclined to cadence.

My excuse: I had an abortion. What’s yours? 

after Paul Verlaine 

One can’t begin to assume how much room there is in a room. 
The joy which overtook you, 
my friend, had roots in my abdomen. 
The desire I thought 
the desire brimming dream broke down 
when I tried to draw it out. 
None of my best enemies 
had even the appetite 
for vocal violence—their horror 
at the living lacerations 
and the local nightmare! 
Little limbs overrode the afterbath. 
My robes felt ablebodied. 
I matured. 
I could grow back the legs I never knew I'd lost. 
My palms felt softer and the training 
overcame all ways to water. 
But disquiet is a problem of dialect 
and sex is an unusual number. 
In my torso, the open mouths of all kinds of 
dead informants. I’ll pardon your 
please, roll back your torment, torch 
all the long confessional letters, only, 
stop leaving me messages.

Laura Wetherington’s recent work appears in inter𝖨rupture, VOLT, FENCE, Denver Quarterly, The Colorado Review, Mrs. Maybe, and Drunken Boat, among others. Her first book, A Map Predetermined and Chance (Fence Books 2011), was selected by C.S. Giscombe for the National Poetry Series. She teaches creative writing at Sierra Nevada College.