portion of the artwork for Athena Nilssen's poetry

Child in the Backseat of Ford Taurus
Athena Nilssen

(There’s a brown girl in the ring)
She’s the shape of a seahorse.

A back-curved S, a silibant
furled to smell like tempura

paints and vending machines.
She gets smaller and smaller

as the road miles out “foy, foy.”
Simi Valley makes a sound

like covering the car frame
in chamois. Her shape is ingrained,

through cutouts on classroom wall
seas and spirograph stenciling.

That scoliosis back is only
memory’s back, animal

and raw-scissored with
childnubbed blades. Bad

dexterity is for clapping hands
and singing of johnny cakes

for life is filled with drawing
shoelaces through the holes,

the sucking-in sounds of canvas
when she’s still tucked up regally.

(She looks like a sugar in a plum)
An unphonetic plum held at the end,

the little curled end, of everything.


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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 38 | Fall 2012