Anne Britting Oleson has been published widely on four continents. She earned her MFA at the Stonecoast program of USM. She has published two chapbooks, The Church of St. Materiana (2007) and The Beauty of It (2010). A third chapbook, Counting the Days, is forthcoming from Pink Girl Ink, and a novel, The Book of the Mandolin Player, is forthcoming from B Ink Publishing–both in spring 2016.
Poem in Which There’s a Scar
She thinks of the cancer that took
her mother thirty-odd years ago,
the oncologist trying to explain
to a seventeen-year-old what
the angel of death looked like:
white masses in the grey
of x-rayed lungs.
This while the nurse injects novocaine.
This while the dermatologist unwraps
the curved razor, picks up the scalpel.
One on the shoulder, one on the foot:
this cancer is on the surface, doesn’t
go deep. Despite the blood, she watches,
trying to make sure the doctor cuts
every bit out. Then the cautery:
burn it all, she thinks. Burn it all away.
Tearing Down the Walls
A surgeon of sorts, with mask,
goggles, coveralls, long sleeves, cap.
Each thrust of the prybar,
every leveraging of the hammer:
a scalpel’s cut which pulls a bit more
of some ancient effort down upon my head.
Despite the protection,
my chest wracks with cough,
my eyes water and itch.
Still I destroy, slicing the old away
scrap by ruined scrap,
until I reach the barest skin,
scraping away from the inside.
The walls are hollow,
a shell waiting to be charged
with just enough to hold
the warmth and lifeblood in.
The Undersides of Leaves
Restraint, like holding your breath:
the air is still, in expectation
of something unnamed,
despite the movement of leaves
high above the parched grass.
An unspoken anger
(if only weather had feelings),
like waiting, lips between teeth,
behind a newspaper
for the inevitable explosion
over the dinner table.
So, too, this afternoon.
The puff of air,
clammy on the skin
of your drawn cheek,
turning each leaf over
to the silvery underside,
throwing up a multitude of hands
against the unavoidable.