A Quarter Die — Linette Marie Allen

Take 1 :

Everybody loves eagles. Those roping off territories in Kafkaesque sky, those caked in nylons over kindergartens and castles and jailhouses, those choked over silverbacks. And the latter, yes, one of these tiny colorless creatures—unheady and toothless, smashed—has just jack-knifed my cherry coffin. It is a quarter past six. The sun has fallen. The sound makes me think of George 柳 , and George 柳 makes me think of Shanghai in November, of Fuxing Park and my polka-dot umbrella twirling hard against the grays, as I wished I could fly, and him shooting me, in black and white, soft as a knot of descendant ravens, firing: “More to the left, more to the left.

Take 2 :

And him balancing a ruby on his tongue, thinking of the most resplendent belles inside the most resplendent bowl: the mixing, the folding, of cornstarch with Congolese sugar, of me and my copy of The Banished Immortal, posing cheerfully, just before the purr of spring—and him naming the glories of snapdragon in light rain, its cherried salon about the templed sky, sifting the times, crying for clouds in cramped quarters, crying for stars.

Take 3 :

I don’t remember sunshine. Only Le Monde hunked in alloy, its black headline in tall French, beveled about faux blue, something about a bald man hopping wrought iron railing on Rue Massenet for that sudden red, for that burst of bilberry, for that natural light as teacher, mating plumage at dawn—

Take 4 :

O, and of how we left, how the Great Nest never seemed sadder to see two siblings part and part and part. Yes, my darling; and now this: a young dragon suckling my lifeless sable breast, and him lying on me like keratin on cheeks. O, how these bones want to heave, how these sour eyes want to scream. But the undertaker, that consummate lover of the cold complex feather, has long lit the large candle; and I know my mark is set.


Linette Marie Allen is earning an MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts at the University of Baltimore. She is the recipient of a 2018 Betty Tarpley Turner Research and Travel Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pleiades, Grub Street, Roanoke Review, and elsewhere.