Two Poems by Letitia Trent

Landscape Featuring Oklahoma

Our story is broken only
when the tent preachers land,
giving grandma a use for that fancy fan,
making all the bad women
vomit up money. Otherwise, I spend
most days pulling ribbon from the kitten’s
belly. Sometimes the husband
takes up hobbies, like disassembling
radios, and scatters the wire-furred
pieces on every empty surface.
I hammered one of his stray dials
to the cupboard and now
I can imagine the creamed corn
talking to me without
looking crazy. I tuck away
the hope that this is just
an independent movie—
the bad teeth bleach clean,
spackled pockmarks peel.
Times like these, the idea
of children  plays double-duty
as wish and shiver. They never work,
but people keep making them anyway,
like hand-held sewing machines
and herbal lozenges. Even the lawn,
sun struck mid-summer, wants to die
a little quicker but can find nowhere
high enough to jump from.

[“Landscape Featuring Oklahoma” first appeared in Black Warrior Review]

Ju On (dir. Takashi Shimizu, 2000)

Mother, when I return
you are still here, scuttling in the rafters, knees
busted, blue, blood
in your teeth, just like in life,

like after a fight, when you’d yawn
to pop the fluid
from your ears. Your mouth

snaps opened
and closed. You do now
the things you did

while alive, only slower,
the chores you hated, now over
and over, your hands

around an invisible broom,
sweeping the spotless floor
or crawling

down the staircase
on your palms and shins
toward the mailman’s knock and shuffle
of envelopes in his satchel

or a car in the driveway, the sound
of gravel and small rocks popping. You always wanted
to catch any movement

out of the house. Remember the cricket
in the well between oven
and wall? It was small and slipped

away when you cupped
hour hands to keep it. You stomped,
you shoved
the broom handle

and never caught it to stop it
from coming or going
without your permission. Now,
I always know

where to find you. Under the floorboards,
in the cupboards, in the pink
insulation. I can call you

when I need you, like a cat
you’ll come to a kiss
or your name, Mother,

Mom, Ma, come
down. I don’t want
you to miss this. You

cannot get
past the Welcome
Mat, you hiss

at the long knife of light
from the warm outside, but I
can get away now, look

I am half
in the doorway and half
way out.

[“Ju On (dir. Takashi Shimizu, 2000)” first appeared in Folio]

Letitia Trent’s work has appeared in The Denver Quarterly, Fence, Prick of the Spindle, and Juked, among others. Her chapbook The Medical Diaries is available from Scantily Clad Press and her newest chapbook, Splice, will soon be available from Blue Hour Press. She currently lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.