A borrowed house awaited,

empty but warm with intention—

soft white rugs for bare feet,

orange cushions posed on sofas.


A woman by Picasso kept one eye

on us. The other watched the lights

down in the valley. He played me

music from his country, asked


to dance. Awkward, I shuffled

to the beat. When he held me,

my body recoiled. I was a crane,

he a rooster, glossy, compact.


The sheets were spotless.

He’d ironed them, tugged

each corner tight, lit a candle.

The sweet scent made me queasy.


It seemed I’d left my voice in the valley.

I became the painted woman,

split into distorted parts,

one eye askew, looking elsewhere.



Susan Okie has had work published in Prairie Schooner, Bellevue Literary Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, Gettysburg Review, Beltway Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Let You Fly, was a finalist in Finishing Line Press’s annual New Women’s Voices Contest and was published last year.

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