Charlotte Innes – This Picture

Charlotte Innes LEP&W V2 Dec 2022

Download PDF Here 13th Anniversary
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two December 2022.

This Picture, poems by Charlotte Innes.

This Picture

Your map is on my skin, my right foot,
scarred at two, I’m told, by a bucket of
boiling water I dipped my foot in, when you,
doing the wash, turned away for a moment.

At four, my hair cut short upon your death.
Ribbons and dresses taken or stored away.
What did I think? What did I know? Did I
really believe you were gone for good? Or was

your love still there somehow, invisible,
as in this picture of me at three staring
intently at my hand, the flowers I’ve picked,
knowing you’re inches away, watching me.

A Starlit Sky Turned Upside Down

It’s Christmas. Time to decorate
my living room with seasonal
reminders. Last year, a tiny
potted cypress, sequin-covered.
Now, poinsettia. My green vase
(a family relic) filled with
twigs of blazing winterberry.

What to call them? Dissenting flags
to wave in winter’s face? Color
to keep the dark at bay? Last year’s
sequins, stuck to my kitchen floor,
won’t be brushed away. They twinkle,
a starlit sky turned upside down.
It’s where my cat would eat. Something

lifts. Glitter on! I say. It’s odd.
I’ve felt at peace for hours. Echoes
of twenty years ago when I
moved in. My haven. Till shadows
crept inside. Now peace? Pleasure once
was Stille Nacht around the tree,
in the glow of clip-on candles,

faces tipped to the cardboard star
up top, foil-wrapped, a battered thing
my mother made not long before
she died. My father made no fuss
but liked to see it glimmer there.
After turkey and Christmas pies,
by bowls of tangerines and nuts,

we sang the German carols that
he’d kept inside, as I still know
O Little Town… and We Three Kings.
On Christmas Night, beneath the tree’s
small warmth, we sang away his flight,
those killers, the poison they left,
the pain we still give each other.

Stop Signs

Red chairs. Red cushions. Red throws. Red
flares all over my living room,

as if to signal something. I lie
on the faded rug, favored spot

of my cats once, stare at the white
ceiling, dreaming of heaven. If

there were such a thing, it’s where
my cats, good little souls, might doze

forever. My thoughts stop in their tracks.
Maybe I’m like my dad—something

I’d never admit before—who’d say,
I’m old and stupid, a kind of joke,

as I shrug off the cold with my
coat of dreams. I’m exploring fog,

not so far from the fog stalling
traffic that jammed his scrambled brain.

© Charlotte Innes

Charlotte Innes is the author of three chapbooks, most recently Twenty Pandemicals (Kelsay Books, 2021), and Descanso Drive, a full-length book of poems (Kelsay Books, 2017). Her poems have appeared in many publications, including The Hudson Review, Rattle, The Sewanee Review, Tampa Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review and several anthologies, including The Best American Spiritual Writing for 2006 (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) and Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Beyond Baroque Books, 2015). A former newspaper reporter, freelance writer and teacher, she has written on books and the arts for many publications, including The Nation and the Los Angeles Times. Originally from England, Charlotte Innes now lives in Los Angeles.

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