"Half and Half" by Marta Lee acrylic on canvas with rubber band 12" X 10"

"Half and Half" by Marta Lee
acrylic on canvas with rubber band
12" X 10"


After the Marriage but Before the Fire

Steep night’s bandage, strip the evening off.
Who speaks of loss is arrogant: haul him off.
This castle’s got ten windows, eleven curtains.
Which view winks storm-towers? Shut it off.
Entrapped, I dared a dart-riddled man. Caught
in this keep, he begged shelter. I buzzed off.
Scientific defenses—flanking fire, moats—
kept us careful. Timber! I cried, nodding off.
Is this the place: bold husband, lost palisade?
I gulped the soup you gave me, hot lid off.
This season, we suffer outer walls, enceinte—
no internal holds, you whisper, tip me off.
You gave me a glass watch that never fastens.
Its ticking—too-slow—pains me. I cast it off.
Will you profess desire—an instant—before
retaliating? Confess: I’ll strip clothes off.
No stones for our daughter: she loves planes
that tilt wings, lose their balance, tumble off.
In the final round, is travel still denied you,
barbed mouth crenelated, lips scoured off?
Battlements mattered till they didn’t: draw-
bridges raised briefly, chessmen castled off.
You’re the loaded gun they warned me of.
Bombarded, I let your roulette pop me off.
Fire once—be honest. A parting gift collects
ribbons, not tears. Betray me—stagger off—
I’m your witness till seawater takes me over.
My name’s upended, last vowels hastened off.


Rebecca Givens Rolland won the 2011 Dana Award in Short Fiction, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Witness, Kenyon Review, Cincinnati Review, Gettysburg Review, Georgia Review, Many Mountains Moving, Versal, American Letters & Commentary, and Meridian. Her first book, The Wreck of Birds, won the 2011 May Sarton New Hampshire First Book Prize and was published by Bauhan Publishing.