Years on now, brown thrashers
in the birdbath flit and splash,
and standing at the bay window
I can't hold my sight of that day
intact. Tiles of it line my brain,
shifting their pattern all the time:
green picnic dress, noose
thrown over a honeylocust tree,
peach ice cream melting
along my pinkie. My mouth
did not fill with the keen
I felt. I siphoned it off same
as I'd learned to do with my runnel
of words. Stood there instead
of leaving, my cheek against
his fine deltoid. Stayed
waiting for his hurrah to dip
to my mouth,
then hid it.
Married him.
The maid's radio drones
over the bird clatter
while she irons.
Neckbone connected
to the head bone— don't you hear
the word of the Lord?
Lord, don't rise them up whole
between us, even in words.
Don't show us
the circuits we dismembered.
Don't make us
face them plenary
and sentient. And anyway,
that upper room is locked.

Caroline was born in Mississippi, raised in Alabama, and lives in Atlanta with her husband and four children. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Witness, Crab Orchard Review, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere.