Emma stares at the mound of ice cream

you gave her, silver spoon dangling from

her index and thumb, an air of perplexity

on her small, square-cut face. She won’t

touch it until completely melted. She sits

on a metal chair in the patio. Her eyes

shift from the cup to a coiled garden hose.

You have told her again, with perfunctory

grace, she looks pretty. Your words slid

down her double-breasted suit.

She is your bodyguard, not your mistress.

Leave her alone. Her black hair, thick like

rope, has a luster of wax in sunshine.

Her features are sewn up, sealed, mute.

She guards both your body and the wealth

of which you are the symptom, the

cause, the result, the cherry on the pie.

Now you are crossing the emerald lawn

towards the main entrance like a knife

bisects the top floor of a wedding cake

its blade drowned in frosting.

Toti O’Brien is an Italian accordionist with an Irish last name. Born in Rome, living in Los Angeles, she is an artist, musician and dancer. She is the author of Other Maidens (BlazeVOX, 2020), An Alphabet of Birds (Moonrise Press, 2020), In Her Terms (Cholla Needles Press, 2021), Pages of a Broken Diary (Pski’s Porch, 2022) and Alter Alter (Elyssar Press, 2022). She can be found on Facebook at Toti O’Brien.

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