Julia Watson

Things That Last To 15

An angleworm, a chicken, a fox

                                    in good health. Pink peonies, latched

roots on an iron gate. The poison

               of monkshood in frost. A Lenten

rose, a red car: its idle hum. 

               Crabapples and its tree. Outside

the first home, Arnie,

               the first dog, sleeps alone.

The gap between the couple’s

               age. The crack of pavement

beyond the gate—a dried and set

               wound. There are bags within

the car: bent pictures, rust pots,

               a white dress torn to bits.

She Tells You She Only Married Your Dad For Children

                        Lyrics taken from Rod Stewarts “Rhythm of My Heart”

Wrapped in separate boxes, Sis gifts you the two
pictures for Christmas. You are eighteen

and love is still alive somewhere, lurking.
They are dancing at a holiday party. In one,

Mama’s scorpion red lips are parted, blonde hair
flames getting higher. Liquor and lightning

in her veins. The good bones beveling
her heel towards your father. In the other,

his leather loafers, tassels rattling, salt
and pepper mustache shifting like the handle

of a slot machine. Dad often muses they were mistaken
for professional dancers. Mama sometimes mumbles this too.

At this party, they wore each other out and retreated
to refreshments. At this party, they each wore black.

So Mama says she knew the ocean
never meets the sky and rivers run straight

into gutters, that love never exists
in an office cocktailed hour. All you know

is they face each other on your bookshelf.
Please, you think, let me still exist

in this other place, where the floor’s
not been crossed. The song’s just begun.

Julia Watson                            

Julia Watson earned her MFA from North Carolina State University. She’s the Writer Liaison from Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things and a Poetry Editor at Chaotic Merge. In 2021, she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a finalist in the NC State Poetry Contest and Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize. She won the 2018 Sassaman Award for Outstanding Creative Writing from Florida State University. Her works have been published or are forthcoming in The Shore, The Hellebore, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, among other journals. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her grumpy dogs. You can read more of her work at juliawatsonwriter.com.