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Adele Evershed

The Setting Sun

You offered me Africa

Made of biscuits

Pomegranate and lemon

I broke off a brittle piece—maybe Somalia

Who knows?

It fizzed on my tongue—

Like so many bitter memories of myrrh

You offered me India

In a cracked bone teacup

Steaming and green,

Unstewed like a Lady in Grey

Who summered in Shimla

Dining with a Maharaja on a Saturday

And beating her servant girl on a Sunday

You offered me Jamaica

Bawdy yet triple refined

To remove all the brown

And sweetly saying

Small up yuhself

While cutting it’s eyes

And leaving duppies in the dregs

You offered me Malaysia

The trees gently scarred

And listing

Like the rubber planters

In the Long Bar

Crunching on peanuts

And bouncing shells on the floor

Little explosions for others to clean up

And then you asked me

What I offered you

Even though we both knew

It would be easier to list the things

I took and would not give back

So I offered you a setting sun

Saying things disappear at night

Yet always knowing it would never be enough

Self Portrait with Joy

At the beginning of the workshop / a young woman reads someone else’s words on aging / and he says / I love that you let yourself laugh / and I think / yes of course you do / we who know / know / we

can’t let ourselves laugh or cough / without tensing our only supple muscles / to stop the leaking

Then he reads his own work / a long list of images / which he calls poetry / and I think / no it’s just an excuse / to air your sex life in public / as he pronounces / pickled / and gluttony / and fritillary / words with lots of tongue / as if he is showing us women all the things / we didn’t realize were there

But we have always lived in a world / where they find more and more ways / to erase a woman / size

zero dresses / or rating our hotness in chili peppers / like we are menu items / making us believe / we should burn our wrinkles / rather than our bras / their economy of beauty / only wanting to keeps us poor and invisible

Then he talks about the importance of endings / and I think / no shit Sherlock / but I smile like

peroxide / and wonder / what do you end on / or do you even get to the end / and what would that feel like coming out of your mouth / a waddle that thinks it’s a swagger / just like him?

I study the handout / his photo as big as a vulture / all about finding joy and stolen delight / and I think

I might write a metaphor / that death is gone / but then on an impulse / I take my pen / and poke out his eyes instead / and I realize / he is right / in the end / it is the little things that bring me joy

The Defenestration Of The Right Sort Of Woman

Of course it would be a chattering man that said my heart would hurt / yet He knew I had the height / and there were always marks to be had for dignity / but then Gabriel / nice in profile because of his wingspan / found out I was not the right sort of woman / so He found another / as easily as picking an unbruised apple before the fall / sealing her curves into a beautiful closing / and turning her into a

lovely sphere / bellied out a bit / white lead on her face / under painting the background / to lift her smiling from the canvas / the only mystery why she agreed

And as for me / I thought what a lucky escape / but of course they had other ideas / always keen on labor / they labored their point / they valued virgins / and only a certain type of woman was worthy of motherhood / until / with their popularity waning / they tried to quilt the light with my bones / insisting they had reformed me / and never realizing / when you cut a design / it’s always what you leave

behind that’s important / so I left my name on their lips / and refused a hand built deaths by stained glass / so they hung me out to dry like a new moon / or the oldest question / just so you could all weep more gracefully

Counter Plot

I dream about Darlicks—just like when I was little

(Is that how you spell it? It seems unlikely—a mishmash of darling and licking)

I’d hide behind the settee

And peek at Dr. Who

A black and white hero

To woo wooh me in my moon waking hours

Giving me night sweats and time traveling explosions

One night—sure my parents were exterminated

I knew the only way to survive was to play dead

I ran into our box room

And draped myself over an open trunk

The metal latch like a gun in my back

Or the fastening of a bra

And I waited….wild on the inside

Dad found me and took me back to the safety of my sheets

And my sleepwalking entered our family folktales

Told and told again like Sunday school parables

Of Dad escaping the pit and his once coal black hair

Of Mam’s martyrdom, destined to bake endless Welsh cakes

That nobody ever ate

And of my brother who kept sticks and stones

In his pockets like treasure

I wonder if I dream about those fancy washing machine villains now

With their buttons and gleam

Because there was never any blood or mourning

Just like in my new space—this final frontier

(although there are plenty of night sweats and the odd explosion)

I Google the name

And find it came from the spine of a book

A book of wonders—The Encyclopedia Britannica

The writers (men of course) used the scrapings—the dal–lek

But they never peeled back the covers

To find the wild inside

And I find I am more disappointed by this than almost anything else I know

V for Victory

From my window

I get a sense of chimneys

Buildings like cake crumbs

A blue corner of sky

Or maybe a trick of the weather

That unlocks a door in me

On the verge of abstraction

I try to turn my eyes brown

Because water is not just one color

And you never know

What happens in a covered gondola

Until it’s too late

After I dragged

All the white of my palette

Into the unjoyful mess

My fingers in the paint

Coming away smelling of geraniums

And laden with traps

Once at the shrine of Mary Magdalene

A priest contemplated my bare legs

I flicked him the vees

And it felt like a victory

I find myself

Thinking about that all the time


Adele Evershed was born in Wales and has lived in Hong Kong and Singapore before settling in Connecticut. Her prose and poetry have been published in over a hundred journals and anthologies such as Every Day Fiction, Grey Sparrow Journal, High Shelf, Tofu Ink Arts Press, Shot Glass Journal, and Hole in the Head Review. Adele has recently been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net for poetry, the Staunch Prize for flash fiction, and her first poetry chapbook, Turbulence in Small Places will be published next year by Finishing Line Press.


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