She Likes to Work Graveyard
She knows that the truck driver at the counter
wants the pot rot, the thick pool of crusted
coffee that’s been sitting for hours.
She waits on the women off second shift
at M&C Parts, their Ladies Night
a quick bite of apple pie and a few sips
of Just water, please. She serves the college boys
who wander in after the local bars’ last calls,
balances three plates on her left arm,
pours drinks with her right. In the lull
after three, she finds crumbs clinging
to the crook of her arm, maple syrup
sticking to the thin strands of hair smeared
across her forehead. She listens to Joey sing
That’s Amore as he bakes for the day, swears
she finds missing verses tucked in the backroom
every off-note key lodged in the wire racks
with the containers of blue cheese,
the jars of mild pepper rings and dill pickles.
When she leaves, she collects
the splinter moons, brown rings left
on dollar bill tips from chipped coffee cups,
the thin slice of the night’s remnants
she can see in the rearview mirror of her car.
Because We Wore Camouflage Before We Wore Miniskirts
We knew leaves and twigs first as a polyester-cotton blend coat
or a brother’s hunting cap that fell to the brim of our noses.
We understood dawn on the first day of doe as ritual,
watched our brothers and uncles and fathers check their rifles,
their scopes, leave the house cursing the cold, but blessing the snow.
We made our own guns from broomsticks, binoculars
from toilet paper rolls. We pulled invisible triggers,
pretended that the kick-back would bruise the soft skin
below our collarbones, above the place where our breasts
would soon be. We covered our face with green eyeshadow
and black mascara, pulled our hair back in tight braids.
We made makeshift tents from bedsheets,
used the top bunk as a tree stand. Our fingers never shook,
our aim perfect, our targets never sprang away.
We grew up, found lipstick and gold bracelets,
wore our t-shirts and jeans tight, forgot how we once
wanted to blend in with the boys. Until that day we saw
the girl wearing camouflage as a short skirt,
dark patches riding up her thighs, the green
catching the highlights in her eyes, and we remembered
those cold November days when our mothers
found us huddled in our own bedroom hunting camps,
our lips tightening around whispers,
I’m hiding, can’t you see that I’m hiding?
The Dirt Sisters
Because we were the only two girls
in a neighborhood filled with boys,
we abandoned the little league fields
to play in the old strip mines above
Toby Creek. With every climb,
we strived for traction. Slipping,
sneakers sliding, we fell, broken pieces
of shale pierced the ground, split
open our skin. At the top, we yelled
Queen of the Mountain, sure
We wanted to rule a kingdom of scraped land
and thin tufts of yellowed grass.
We staked our claim, scratched our names
in the dirt, became blood sisters with a sharp poke
and two gritty fingers pressed together.
You were the leader, never minding
how dust lined soaked your ankles, how
a thin cloud of dust circled your head
like a halo, how you swiped your pricked finger
against the thighs of your jeans,
the red a rust streak soaked to your thighs.
At home, My mother sighed, spit
on a dish towel, wiped my face.
There’s a beautiful young lady underneath
all this, she said. I never said out loud
that I wasn’t so sure.
Karen J. Weyant’s work can be seen in 5AM, the Barn Owl Review, Cave Wall, The Fiddleback, Flyway, Copper Nickel and River Styx. Her first chapbook Stealing Dust was published in 2009 by Finishing Line Press, and her second chapbook, Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt won Main Street Rag’s 2011 Chapbook Contest and will be published in 2012. In 2007, she was awarded a poetry fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. She now lives and writes in Warren, Pennsylvania, but teaches at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York.