The Oxford, Ohio, Decency Code
states it’s illegal for a woman to strip
in front of a man’s portrait; he feels it,
her misdemeanor, on the back of his eyelids,
her shirt hitting the floor as an ache
paints itself across his fingertips.
His eyes follow her around the room; in
and out of the picture frame. She can feel it
graze the skin of her shoulders, trace
the lines of her spine, devour the cradle
of her body from hipbones
to collar. The man in the portrait
fights against boundaries of cling
and canvas, struggling to grasp
that third dimension, that shape beyond—
he cannot hold her. She can
turn the frame to face the wall,
put it away, leave him to dust, opt
for a still life. Innocent
bowls of fruit, blustery landscape, vase,
single calla lily.
David was a woman’s name, the history books forgot
the woman who went out with her slingshot,
called the man in the moon Goliath, struck him
from the sky where he’d spend nights staring
through cracks in her blinds.
She felt his craters
burning into the skin of her shoulders
where he’d linger,
dream himself invincible
on the far side of a white heat atmosphere,
and still, he fell.
Dull and dead she buried him,
the man in the moon in the backyard,
under a tree, lunar decomposition
tangling in its roots.
I’ve never seen the ocean, but I can eulogize it
Ocean-dried, beached whales relearned their legs.
Again they walk, gape-jawed hunting
for krill that dissolved to dust years ago.
They remember the taste, clinging to the spaces
between their teeth, the exoskeleton
of all they once savored.
Unable to find it they’ll take to the air, make new
oxygen oceans in the cloud cover, adapting
to outer reaches of space; pursuing
copia depths from which they came.
E.B. Schnepp is a poet with a bad procrasti-baking habit hailing from rural Mid-Michigan who currently finds herself stranded in the flatlands of Ohio. Her work can also be found in pacificREVIEW, Paper Nautilus, and Stone Coast Review, among others.