January 22, 2009

Christina Olson

stars my aunt, home alone
in a hot Cincinnati day. There's a knock
at the door. On the stoop
there's a man. This is where
I always pause and take a sip. Behind him
I like to put the car, hood raised,
dull olive body a box
like domestics were in those days.
The screen door cuts his face
into tiny squares. I like to say
that she ran a hand
through her short brown hair
before she reached for the latch,
used only a single finger
to lift the hook from its eye.
And when she turned, and saw
the family dog perched behind her,
a growl she'd never before heard,
she knew then that it was a bad idea,
this man in her house, and she said
Maybe not. And he said
he understood and went down
the street and the woman who
let him in, the one who couldn't read
the warning in the gray hackles
of a six-year-old sheepdog or
who didn't have one-well,
he raped that woman. You knew that.
I say that I love this story
because it's true, though
my aunt can't confirm
because I've never asked her.
And I say that it makes me love dogs,
but what I really like about it
is who I turn into when I tell it.
In my next life, I would like
to come back as someone who tells
the truth, but for now I can live
with the bite of lie and porter,
the dog at the top of the stairs
and his whole body tense,
everyone leaning forward slightly,
everyone waiting to hear
what's going to happen next.


Christina Olson's first book of poems, Before I Came Home Naked, is forthcoming from Spire Press. New work is also slated to appear in Brevity, The Best Creative Nonfiction, Volume 3, and Black Warrior Review. Originally from Buffalo, New York, she is currently a visiting assistant professor of writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, where it also snows a lot. Contact her at notwyethschristinaolson@ gmail.com

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