Two Poems by Charlotte Matthews

Self Check-out


Of course I have my doubts,
but when no one’s looking
I pretend I’m someone else:
the tightrope walker, The Great Farini,
crossing Niagara Falls with a man on my back.
Or the veiled beekeeper
squeezing the bellows
of my smoker to calm the hive.
I wish I could reverse time to
meet the doctor who, so eager
to rid my mother of scarlet fever,
told her to cut her rocking horse’s mane,
told her it would grow back.
I’d explain how a lie
rearranges the world,
and in a very dangerous way.

I’d only planned to pick up a few things.
Where’s the barcode for Concord grapes?


Lessons from The Butterfly Collector


In my imaginary life I become another roadside
attraction, not the world’s largest peach,
but more like the man who chainsaws life-sized
cartoon characters in the Safeway parking lot.

Because no one believed him, Galileo took
his contemporaries to the top of the leaning tower
to show them what he knew in his heart was right.
And for awhile it was almost too beautiful.

I’m telling you this because I wish someone had told
me: it’s okay to be misunderstood. With my tweezers
I grip the butterflies’ abdomens and pin them in place
on the corkboard without damaging their wings one bit.

What interests me least is labeling them
so I gave that up a long time ago.

Charlotte Matthews
Charlotte Matthews was winner of the 2007 New Writers Award from The Fellowship of Southern Writers. She is author of two full-length collections of poetry, Still Enough to be Dreaming and Green Stars (both Iris Press). She is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University. The poems in this issue will appear in her forthcoming collection Some We Gave Them Names.

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