by Cathy Smith Bowers

                                 “It was one of those moments
                                you wish you could
                                marry forever.”
                                                —James Seay

                                 My father, as he pulled
off his beaten shoes and unbuttoned his shirt
after a hard day in the spinning
room, the whistle he would ease through the slit
between his tongue and palate, too tired
to press his lips into the tight o
of the realer whistle whistled Sunday mornings
before the world went bad, the clear,
pure strains of Fraulein called up
from his healing lungs

                                 Beth’s snowflakes,
before she died, how, when she opened
the door to let us in, hundreds
of them she had cut and hung from the ceiling—
sloppy paper flakes spinning above the heat
of the big-bellied stove, unbelievable
soft blizzard of white

                                 the look on Flint’s face,
its sweet incredulity of loss
as if in the telling of the story
he suddenly realized the girl
in the men’s restroom of that New Orleans
oyster house was the one true love of his life,
the way he turned from the urinal
and there she was, pushing him aside
pleading—I’m going to throw up
and I’ll need you to hold my hair

and, done, she was gone, as he stood there
stunned, still holding his penis,
his other hand cupped tight to his mouth and nose,
breathing in, breathing deep
the still lingering jasmine of her hair.

Cathy Smith Bowers is author of three poetry collections, including The Love That Ended Yesterday in Texas, which was the first winner of the Texas Tech University Press Poetry Award Series, subsequently named for Walt McDonald. Her other books are Traveling in Time of Danger and her most recent, A Book of Minutes, from Iris Press. A native of South Carolina, she has received a South Carolina Poetry Fellowship and was a winner of the 1990 General Electric Award for Younger Writers. Her poems appear in The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, The Georgia Review, Shenandoah, The Southern Review, Kenyon Review, and The Gettysburg Review, among other journals. She teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program at Queens University of Charlotte. I spoke with her in Tryon, North Carolina, her new town of residence, which offers a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

“Groceries,” “Kingdom,” and “Three” originally appeared in Traveling in Time of Danger (Iris Press, 1999). “Anatomy of a Southern Kiss,” “Chamomile,” and “Pansy” originally appeared in A Book of Minutes (Iris Press, 2004). These poems are reprinted here by permission of the author.