The Woman in the Mint Green Skirt

By Mitchell Untch

…that of one mind imagining into another…(Keats)

for Bella Mahaya Carter

Words form inside the woman

who wears it, wrapping around her hips

kissing the framework of her bones.

Today's mantra: arrive at something from nothing.

So I imagine, from her long grey streaks of hair,

that she's in her fifties,

a sort of Rapunzel from my playbook of words,

who can't afford a good hairdresser

or a even a two-story from which her

long tresses could fall, undulate like dying swans,

everything she has ever thought of saying

gathering in the dark suburb of her mouth.

Maybe she'll write about her family,

her children, the husband she loves,

don't ask me how I know this--where they met, a bus stop,

him with a pack of Marlboro's, lighting her cigarette

the way Paul Henreid lit Bette Davis's

cigarette in Now, Voyager,

the delicate flame from his lighter burnishing her eyes,

the red tips flurry, how his hands moved gently toward

her as though he were offering a part of himself

he never wanted back, and her taking it,

already succumbing from the inside out,

afterward, the long, grey drag of indefinable silence.

Maybe she'll write about the way her husband

first offered his mouth, the taste of himself,

the unstudied language of his body

cut from the dark into the night air,

the hotel room, the window, the evening's thinly sliced stars.

I look around. A light bulb becomes a kind of a heart,

everything, its own super nova.

Curtains flutter like angel wings.

Finish the last line your on, the instructor says.

I wonder what words would do if they didn't have mouths?

Whether the hand is the right instrument?

And although I try to prevent listening

to the crows outside argue in the streets,

I can't help but imagine a marital disagreement

unsettled in the branches,

rattled with accusations of midnight infidelities,

like the arguments I have with myself

when I suspect I'm already in too deep

to remember what we had before,

which makes me wonder

if you heard me last night, if you saw

my mouth moving behind your back.

I can't say, but the piano in the living room plays every note.

I switch the lamp off. You bring in two beers.

I hear the slow bending of flip tops,

the flicker of tin, like fins in a shallow stream.

Your hand un-layers me.

The television remote slides between the sofa cushions.

Even on mute, lips lie.

The woman with the mint skirt gets up.

Seams border her legs like loudspeakers,

nylons scissor toward the bathroom door. Click.


Mitchell Untch is an emerging writer and has been published in The Los Angeles Review, White Pelican Review, Third Wednesday, Two Hawks Quarterly, New Millennium Writers Contest (Honorable Mention, 2011), The Monadnock Anthology 2011; Nimrod Intl, 2011; Jabberwock Review, 2011; The Atlanta Review Poetry Contest- Finalist 2011; The Aurorean 2011; Out of Our Journal 2011; and was recently chosen as one of six ALOUD Newer Poets, sponsored by the Los Angeles Book Festival, The Mark Taper Forum and the James Irvine Foundation. Mitchell Untch is also a 2010 alumnus of the Squaw Valley Writer's Workshop and will be an invited attendee at the Gettysburg Writer's Workshop 2011 with Carol Frost and Stanley Plumly.

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