Tina Barr
A Good Sport

Tommy's on the rowing machine.

He pulls back and skids forward.

"Not so good," he says, "I'm older;

there's the guilt."

Meryl took me to meet him and Joe,

his lover. I wore a grey knit mini-skirt,

grey tights and blue suede boots.

I'd never been kissed by a woman before.

Face down between her legs, who was I? 

His biceps fresh from the tanning salon,

gloved, he bends over, squirting liquids.

Dribbling teas make my hair change color:

peach to honey, caramel; once it was pale butter.

He pinned my hair in configurations

that made men stare. Our roots

are the same color. "Even I," he says,

"slept with women." 

Seth was here in December.

Traced my eyebrows, outlined my lips

with his finger. I lay with my head

in his lap for an hour. I'm teaching Berger's

chapter on the nude. My throat

constricts in the shower; I blink

back tears in the sauna. 

I buy yellow chocolate ducks, cozy,

in their nest of shredded paper.

Inside its sugar, dome another duck

cruises a green wave's squiggle.

Hard pink icing encircles the aperture.

On top: a pressed blue rosette.

On my parents' bed, we picked, from green

grass cellophane, yellow marshmallow chicks. 

I dream I pull a baby's carriage,

pillows in the bottom rack. Each one

is an alphabet block, embroidered

with letters: "a," "p," "e."

I turn the last one over,

the "r," a secret no one has seen. 

Mornings I check the mirror to see

if my breasts no one's touched since December

have tilted lower. In Joe's photographs,

little chinese spirits, skirted like Casper,

tinted, superimposed, flock in cherub formation

at a mustached man's shoulder.

A couple argues on a couch, a smoke

genie interposed. Where Tommy lounges,

little ones, fork-tongued,

carry gold gilt pitchforks. 

Last week he cut my bangs,

showed me a photo of his 20 year old. Today he

and the black-haired kouros sauntered past me.

Ingres' is the nude I cannot

forget: her back a smooth white terrain.

I once held an ivory tusk.

So heavy, so small, to kill

the rest of the elephant for.

Demons, that painters make cupids,

turn me, spin me. Tommy and I

lift every mask at the ball

seeking the boy with a bow.

We offer our little hearts boxed up. 



Found In Volume 27, No. 02
Read Issue
  • tinanew
Tina Barr
About the Author
Tina Barr’s volumes of poetry include her first book, The Gathering Eye, winner of the Tupelo Press Editor's Award, and At Dusk on Naskeag Point, The Fugitive Eye, and Red Land, Black Land.  She teaches in the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNCA