Spotlight: Hands & Mouth

I strike a match / to burn the
sage / bundle smoke circles /
in every room / of my silent
home / I do / this often / I do it
infrequently enough / to
forget / to do it / more often /
often I’m too busy smacking /
I mean striking gum between
teeth. / When I was fourteen I
got braces / for my imperfect
smile / for dental health / for
other reasons too / my parents
couldn’t afford them / but
wanted my mouth / to smile
proud. / One Christmas / I
drank too much tequila / and
said something like Mom /
this mouth has afforded /
many a woman / many a /
pleasure / she maybe said /
your tequila tongue lives
behind / white / straight teeth
/ in a queer mouth / your face
is striking / either way though.
/ I strike a match / burn sage /
hold it to my face / under my
nostrils / wave it over / my
head / past my shoulders /
open a bottle / brace for
quivering lips / let her ashes
soar / over Stoney Lake / they
never strike water / but land /
over / quiet ripples.

Sarah Cooper lives in South Carolina and teaches literature and women’s studies at Clemson University.