Poems: Anne Champion and Jenny Sadre-Orafai

Ilo for Anne Champion and Jenny Sadre-Orafai's poems.

Spell for Corsets and Underwire

You’ll always overfill
what’s made to hold you.

Women have edges both sharp
and pliant, curving

for cupped hands, swelling
for children, shrinking

for love. Pull the laces
as tight as you can, force

every exhale out of you
for good. If you believe

thin lengths of metal
cushioned by flimsy lace

will be the only things
to shape you, then they will.

Raze an Abandoned House

Empty fruits now. No one told the grass,
the weeds, the trees to leave. The sprinkler

is dry, directionless. How to make shapes
in the yard again, feet coming to home?

Chandeliers so bored with their glints
unappreciated they’re Vegas headdresses

now. They watch weddings on work
breaks, shaking their noisy bodies

to object. Still, they won’t be back by
the end of this spell. You’ll have light

but it won’t be in necklaces, broken
chains tinkling in the dark.

Spell Said in the Valley

Girls try to save you
in their backyard,
the trampoline dusted
with leaves. They say
they know the end
is coming: you won’t be
taken by your ankles
to the good place.

The dip in mountain
is a secret mouth.
The girls are rotten
molars. You aren’t saved
by them or anyone. You
ask the valley to close
her lips up, swallow
the people to sleep.

Spell for Dead Lovers

I don’t want them to wake me in the night
with those lips kissed in a past life.
Once, I told my young lover

to never get me roses, they’ll only wither
and die, scattering their brittle shells
on my floor, cracking under my toes

like the sound of teenage heartbreak. Now
I know: Don’t give me bodies either—
they’ll die too. One boy erased

himself like his name was merely chalk
on a board, but I still see it—so brutal,
the lessons of ghosts. Another struck

by four cars on a bike. Skin regenerates
every few years, so the selves we used
to touch had already departed.

What, then, is this sting? On the sidewalk,
a trail of dead petals again—I must
pick them up, before this becomes

my wedding march. I fill my bra
with them so they shower my lover’s
naked body. If I smell like dead

flowers, he won’t notice the scent of dead
names on my tongue. Were you hoping
for a spell that halts grief?
Anne Champion is the author of Reluctant Mistress (Gold Wake Press, 2013) and The Dark Length Home (Noctuary Press, forthcoming). Her work appears in Verse Daily, Prairie Schooner, Epiphany Magazine, The Pinch, New South, Redivider, PANK, and elsewhere. She was a 2009 Academy of American Poets Prize recipient, a 2016 Best of the Net winner, and a Barbara Deming Memorial Grant recipient. She currently teaches writing and literature in Boston, Massachusetts. http://anne-champion.com.
Jenny Sadre-Orafai is the author of Paper, Cotton, Leather and four chapbooks. Recent poetry has appeared in Linebreak, Eleven Eleven, Redivider, Thrush Poetry Journal, PANK, Rhino, The Bakery, Sixth Finch, ILK, iO: A Journal of New American Poetry, and Poemeleon. Her prose has appeared in The Rumpus, The Toast, Delirious Hem, The Los Angeles Review, and South Loop Review. She is co-founding editor of Josephine Quarterly and an Associate Professor of English at Kennesaw State University.

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