Rose Swartz


She ran out the screen door
a swirl of pine needles, pointed toes.
Light flailing a sick green she was
a backup singer on the cracked earth stage.
Smoke-tint and wheat flour
through the rafters.

Her hair was brown as kitchen cabinets,
wine-spattered mahogany, spring lightning.
Cyclone chaser, chasm dancer,
a mad thing come up swinging
that day the books and dishes
flew up in the elms.


Charles Edward something spattering
man above the burner, dish towel in his hand
how many eggs do you want?
Bare chest, denim overalls
late April breakfast-
three or four?

The sky’s veins jumbled:
thawed chicken, scaled trout, river delta, electric.
Her answer gone past the quarry,
fields stained as his wrist
green beneath the copper
band he wore to heal his blood.


The wind-born limbs left scratches
like mis-aimed mascara brushes.
Metal elbows of lawn chairs left
gouges in the mud where they tumbled.
The bunkhouse wall fell and flung
a coffee table beneath the piano’s strings,

how it sounded unhammering
once the sirens stopped. He left the burner
and walked into the yard. Climbed
atop the upturned washtub, he held
the metal skillet out to her, the healing sky:
two fried eggs, their yolks broken and winking.

Rose Swartz is from Kalamazoo, Michigan. She likes rust, mud, rain, rivers, lakes, bicycles, grackles and many, many other things about life on earth. She is currently working on an MFA in poetry at Arizona State University.

“I grew up in western Michigan where every spring we had amazing lightning storms and occasional tornadoes. Whenever there was a storm my mother would gravitate towards the front porch, my brother and I would follow…we’d sit and listen to the rain dripping through the ivy leaves that clung to the side of our house. If the storm sirens came on, my dad would march us to the basement while my mother lingered at the foot of the stairs, watching the sky through the screen door.”