“A Few Rules of Thumb” by Mary Kane

If a woman takes a poem

into her mouth, she will taste mint, a little bit of raw moon, the beginnings

of trouble.

If a woman invites a poem into her kitchen, she will speak

at length with the dead.

If she invites two poems to dinner, she will know the pull of infidelity.

If a woman plants poems

in sock drawers, knife drawers, library books, envelopes addressed

to old men, she will shudder with pleasure at unexpected moments.

If a woman writes poems

in the nude, the skin in her poems will wrinkle. If a woman writes poems

dressed in corduroys and a green

wool sweater, the skin of her breasts will glow

mostly unnoticed.

If a woman argues with a poem

you won’t hear her. If she wakes up on Sunday and continues arguing

with the same poem, a line will fly alongside her left ear, cardinal red

with a splash of black.

If a woman makes love to a poem, no one will be able to read it.

If a woman

makes love to a poem behind her husband’s back, the poem will explode

from a prickled pod like a poppy, a deep salmon color.

If a woman fears a poem, her toes will curl.

If a woman invites the poem she fears

over for tea, she will breathe images. She will spill shadows everywhere

she walks, a poem over her head her very own sun, her very own rain,

her very own umbrella.

Originally published in The Guidebook.

Mary Kane

Mary Kane

Mary Kane’s poems have appeared in The Beloit Poetry Journal, on Poetry Daily, the Hiram Poetry Review, The Guidebook and Casa de Cinco Hermanas. She has two chapbooks, She Didn’t Float and After We Talk About the Recent Deaths of our Parents and about Compassion as Handled by Chekhov. She lives in Cape Cod and teaches at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.