Fall 2021, Volume 31

Poetry by VA Smith

Cuttings, 1952

When my new husband confessed
to cutting down
ten tender pink dogwoods that fall
as he cleared my parents’ land 
to build our house,
I could not know
how I would miss that loveliness come spring.

By April we were settled.
I curled into the cold commode 
spitting up saltines and watching
blue veins brighten my white breasts
as if pulsing to the surface.

Though I roughened the nipples with a washcloth,
I could not stand the newborn’s mouth
sucking my swollen skin,
so slipped 
a bottle between his gums.

David wailed while I rocked him and sang, 
pulling his spindly, bowed legs 
to his tummy in pain as I wept
and wondered why babies were drawn
asleep and smiling on pastel mounds of clouds. 

When Betty Wilder returned
from college over Christmas
heavy and depressed,
we pushed my baby buggy all over Hillcrest, 
bundled against the knife-like wind,
across acres of farmland stench.   

The baby sleeping brought
Betty’s turn to cry
and stare, her scarred over wrists
calling out to my loneliness,
her tales of silent dates with vain boys
and hours with textbooks a wound to me. 

Now I am thinking of when the budding will begin.
At night, I picture myself
in those black capris and huaraches, 
wet red lips open
for the camera, 
sunning my face on the front stoop,
our coal-black spaniel dropping
a freshly killed baby bunny at my feet.




BIO: VA Smith lives in Fairmount, Philadelphia, her adopted city, where she reads and writes, hikes and bikes, serves as a home chef/caterer and interior design wanna’ be, and loves on her family and friends.

VA has published in Adanna Literary Journal, Blue Lake Review, Corvus Review, Ginosko Literary Journal, Pure Slush’s Growing Up, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Mobius, Parkinson’s Poetry, Quartet, Silkworm, The Southern Quarterly, The Southern Review Uppagus. Verdad, Yes,Poetry and forthcoming in Around the World Anthology, Evening Street Press and Review and West Trade Review. Her book Biking Through The Stone Age will be published by Kelsay Press in Spring 2022.