How does a poem work? she asked, doodling
on her notebook cover, the only child of divorced
parents, three point seven five average, hung over
from Thursday night’s three dollar margaritas.
It works on a farm, as the Allis Chalmers combine
traces rows in loamy soil, a blackbird eying the dirt
for unearthed worms under a tattered gray sky.
It works in the hands of a stone mason, squeezing
a pastry bag of mortar between rocks to decorate
concrete walls as precisely as a baker who pipes
pink rosettes on a pale buttercream palette.
It works in a bomber, dropping the end or the start
of a conflict, saving or extinguishing freedom
of citizens whose descendants wear paper poppies
or purple hearts and white crosses face East.
It works when the sunlight sprays the floor
with eyelet graffiti that moves as the spray
can empties its paint throughout the morning.
It works in the foam of espresso, the crema
a bitter swirl on the tongue, a kiss that slides
and dissolves into words that preserve it.
“Oh, just wondering,” she said, flipping her hair.
Kim King © 2015