Two Poems

You Said a Girl in a Blue Dress

Since we last spoke, I’ve had, more or less,
three blue dresses. Isn’t that what you told me
you wanted, a girl in a blue dress?
I didn’t think of you when I bought them, I confess.
Though I’ve imagined wearing them in fantasies
I’ve had since we last spoke. More or less,
they’re all the same shade, though my chest
is exposed in the first, the second has straps like spaghetti,
and even if you do want a girl in a blue dress,
it’s unlikely the soft silk of the third will impress
you, nor will any color or anything sexy
I’ve worn since we last spoke. More is less,
if I mean the more we were together, the less
we cared about each other. Wouldn’t you agree?
Do you want a girl in a blue dress
or is this something I imagined for you, to press
you finally into loving me fairly?
That was the last time we spoke, more or less,
when you wanted me, in and out of my blue dress.

A Sestina For You There, In Your New Time Zone

You know, they have earth-
quakes in California. You may hold a pen
to script your apologies, but watch
me throw it down an earthquake crevice when you
mutter again that I am a black
spot on your soul. I want a tattoo on my ring
finger that says Never. Ring-
lets of amaryllis linking the letters or another earthy
something uniting the classy black
calligraphy. If it seems I have pent-
up rage, it started the day you
cleaned your ear with my bobby pin. I watched,
horrified, hating you. I watched
you pick out the wax, wipe it on your sleeve, ring
my hair around your thumb, put the pin back. You
like the West Coast, but no place on earth
would ever like you. I wish I’d loved you in pen-
cil, that I could turn you over, erase the black
lead. Do you always blackmail 
your lovers? Do you always check your watch
so matter-of-factly? I have a penchant 
for second, third chances, though had I the knack to ring
out witty retorts, I’d tell you this old earth
has its bump-in-the-road days, but you
are worse than road kill, you
who have never braked on the one blacktop
road in our hometown, your earth-
toned ties flapping flippant in the car. Watch:
look closely while I paint a bright ring 
of forgiveness and then step outside of it. If there is pen-
ance here for me, I’ll bet you couldn’t pen
it out worth a damn. I’d had hopes for you,
but no matter. Anyhow, don’t bother to wring
the life out of me anymore. Blackball
that urge to fly here, or to watch
through my window as I undress, unearth
my penitent bones, and finally remove my black
mascara. I’d like to ring up Christ himself, make him watch
you steal my prayers from this swivel chair you call earth.

—Melissa Lindstrum, Madison, WI