KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 10: Fall 2018
Poem: 247 words

What to Think Of

by Elya Braden
after Mark Strand
Think of the palm trees whispering
danger, danger to the wind

the tropical moths bigger than your
small hand whooshing in and out

empty rectangles cut in walls
windows in a colder climate.

Think of the waves rising up
to celebrate the night, clapping

their froth-fringed fingers 
on the rocky shore

the sand that singed your toes
now cool with darkness.

Think of the white sheets kneading
your back as you writhe

under the inescapable weight of his
thick body, his knees pinning

the butterfly of you to this mattress.
Think of the steel-wool forest rioting 

from his barrel chest. Do not glance
at his face turbulent with drink.

Do not smell his breath, rotten
with cigarillos and scotch.

Do not scream as he twists
your nipples to red pain.

Do not cringe when he caresses the line
of your jaw, growls: I’ll hit you here.

Think of the sand, the seagrass, 
the long trek to the nearest bungalow 

the dark buzzing with bats and beetles. 
Think of your phone, your passport 

your wallet all locked in a safe 
to which he holds the key.

Think of the silk scarves he knotted
into blindfolds and hand ties 

in the distant comfort of your apartment
that night you went short-skirt commando

at an oceanfront bistro, his twiddling
cloaked under white tablecloth

as you giggled, flirted with the flame-
haired waitress

and know: no one would believe 
you didn’t ask for this.


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