Yvette Viets Flaten, from Eau Claire, is active in the local arts community and her poetry has appeared in numerous journals. She won the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Muse Prize for Excellence in Poetry in 2008 and 2013, and the Wisconsin Writers’ Association’s Jade Ring for Poetry in 2010 and 2015. She loves to cook, travel, and read.
On the Third Day From the End
To line me up for radiation, two therapists
pull and tug on the white sheet beneath me,
working me into the crosshairs by millimeters.
Most times it’s been easy, but not today.
Make your body dead weight the older woman
advises me. But dead weight is exactly what
I don’t want to be. It’s what all this—surgery,
chemo, even radiation—is meant to prevent.
I try to relax but now the white sheet has become
a shroud, and the molded pillow beneath my head,
my crown of thorns. My side, after all, bears
the mark of the surgeon’s lancet and my fingernails,
the stigmata of chemo.
The two attendants tug and roll me into final position
and hasten from this dimly-lit room. The massive door
swings shut and I lay waiting for the very cosmic burst
some scientists say printed Him on the Shroud of Turin.
Dead weight, I think. For three more days I must be
dead weight and lie still and alone in this tomb room,
until the moment the two women come in to tell me
that it is finished and they help me up from the table
and out into the corridor’s light.
Published in Midwest Prairie Review 2015
La Coiffure de Germaine
My French friend’s mother
was a woman of ample dimensions;
a torso of jambon and boeuf en croûte
roast lamb with flageolets shoulders, her
shins were deux pains, nothing baguette
about her, nothing mince.
Germaine was La Bonne Femme. Cassoulet
on a cold night, salade vinaigrette to cut richness.
She chose the right cheese, right wine.
The third year, I slept over. We giggled all
night, my friend and I, until Germaine appeared
in moonlight. “Taisez-vous,” she whispered to us.
Her hair was down. I had never seen it so.
Bun unwound. Braid unplait. Three feet of
silver threads, from brow to collar to hip.
My mouth stopped. She stood in the milk flood,
large and full, her hair so shockingly lush, I learned,
tout de suite, that the night had oh, so many stories
of its own.
Published in Verse Wisconsin, March 2011
Adonis of the Wide Place
I glimpsed your muscled shoulders as I sped by,
naked shoulders, bronzed by the sun, rasped
by heated wind and open air.
I saw them flexing as you reached–I cannot
say for what? Grasping a fence post?
Shutting a horse gate? Hitching a drag?
I was too soon past to note; too soon conjuring
you only from memory…
Where were you, Handsome Boy? Where did I,
a modern Aphrodite, fly past you, cruising
at the limits of speed? Was it the corner
of a hayfield? Or along the foot of tooth-
combed rows of tasseling corn?
Or was it, perhaps, when I slowed for that
dusty town? Were you pumping gas there?
Or mowing the brittle cemetery lawn?
I do not recall its name. It might have
been Any Place: Whistle Stop. Watering Hole.
The hamlet a new freeway by-passed to death,
the burg a faltering factory disemboweled.
Ghost Town. Four Corners. A forgotten
shrine of middle America–but a holy naos
to you, Young Adonis. A place of sanctuary,
this overlooked abode, this sacred grove
where fruit is left to ripen on the tree…
I will find you yet, Golden Boy.
At some gravelly wayside I will stop
to buy apples from the back of a pickup
and you, with strong, bronzed shoulders
will carry them to my waiting car.
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