Anne Kaier


At five on a February afternoon,
slender in her slip and bra, my mother
works at her mahogany table,
sketching brows and painting eyes;
after years as a practicing beauty,
she's deft.

I watch from the blue chintz chair,
hardly a gazelle at fifteen.
Her perfume's the color of scotch.
With hands that hug me so hard they pop,
she rubs on lipstick, smacks
her lips, and snaps the compact shut,
as if she's trumped at cards.

I feed on the scent of her,
willing her to bring me into the game
where women hunt men, but
she steps into her satin gown.
Zip me up, will you, honey? I'm late.
I do it with my rough, red hand.
A spray of diamonds at her breast,
she flicks her eyes in her full-length mirror.
How do I look?
She curves her hand half-moon
around my face and rustles out.

*From Anne Kaier's book In Fire and was originally published by Muse Apprentice Guild

Anne Kaier's poetry has appeared in Philadelphia Poets, American Writing, Sinister Wisdom, HLFQ and other venues. Her chapbook, InFire, was published recently. She reviews poetry for The Wild River Review. Her non-fiction has been published in Tiny Lights and is forthcoming from Under the Sun. Holding a Ph.D. from Harvard University, she teaches literature and creative writing at Penn State, Abington, Arcadia, and Roemont College.