Cynthia Atkins (She, Her) is the author of Psyche’s Weathers, In The Event of Full Disclosure (CW Books), and Still-Life With God (Saint Julian Press 2020), and a chapbook forthcoming from Harbor Editions, 2022. Her work has appeared in many journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Anti- Heroin Chic, BOMB, Cider Press Review, Diode, Green Mountains Review, Indianapolis Review, Los Angeles Review, Rust + Moth, North American Review, Permafrost, SWWIM, Thrush, Tinderbox, and Verse Daily. Formerly, Atkins worked as the assistant director for the Poetry Society of America, and has taught English and Creative Writing, most recently at Blue Ridge Community College. She is an Interviews Editor for American Micro Reviews and Interviews. She earned her MFA from Columbia University and has earned fellowships and prizes from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Writer’s Voice, and Writers@Work. Atkins lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County, Virginia, with artist, Phillip Welch and their family. More work and info at: http://www.cynthiaatkins.com
When you put the headphones on, you see all
the roads compiled in your shoes. They follow
you to the places you will cease to go—First kiss,
tiny head pronouncing itself from your uterus.
Over here, on a large movie screen, a silhouette
of a couple embracing. The woman has vintage hair
and lipstick. Rape, your mother never spelled
it out—How can something be without a word for it?—
Never again play hopscotch or know yourself
as a virgin. Thrown on a bed, like a stuffed toy.
Folded maps and billboards sent us in the wrong direction.
Girls, you don’t own your own property, or your body.
Wars are started for no more than a pebble
being thrown on the wrong side
of history. The seasons turn like little girls
doing cartwheels. You could never do one,
even though you tried and tried in fields
and parking lots. There’s a silhouette of a couple
being pixelated on a large movie screen—
Out of gas, American cars are parked, teenagers
giving hickeys in crewneck sweaters, crooning
at black and white movies on the tiered
brick of bombed-out buildings.