Monday Jun 24

Rhett Iseman Trull's first book of poetry, The Real Warnings (Anhinga Press, 2009), received the 2008 Anhinga Prize for Poetry. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Best New Poets 2008, The Georgetown Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and other publications.Her awards include prizes from the Academy of American Poets and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation. She received her B.A. from Duke University and her M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she was a Randall Jarrell Fellow. She and her husband publish Cave Wall in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Song for Our Bully

Again with her dark
            design, pretense of concern, she
gathers us, collecting this time our locker
            combinations, lest
we forget. She doesn’t care. She never
            cared. She steals our hearts
to break them. But in harmony
            that comforts us, we
deliver: 13, 9, 22, right left right and
            open. And I say, Forgive her. Picture
the muddy spirits of her
            childhood, shapeless
barren years that shaped her: brother tied to
            morphine down the hall; a mother
rocking, in her rocker, gulleys
            in the carpet; hour
by hour, shadows heisting
larger portions of the light. I knew her
then, before she learned to hide
            herself. Inevitable Monopoly
banker and victor, she offered me once her red hotels
when I cried at the margin
of my loss. We fell asleep holding
hands, woke not knowing whose
belonged to whom. When a boy, mouth
an angry shine of braces, stole
my locket off its chain, she
broke his nose to get it
back, pressed hard to my breast
            its oval of secrets, demanding,
Guard it, bruise over my heart beginning.
            She pretends now not to notice
me, but don’t be fooled. Memory, the one vault
            she can’t crack, presides. She knows
I know. She can’t reverse the we

           we were. Can you see me
 her as I’ve seen her? See her mine
            the radio for its sad songs: exchange
a walk on part in the war for a lead role
            in a cage. See her by the creek, alone,
burying small objects: onyx brooch
            her father sent, tooth
the fairy never came in the night
            to switch for coin. Love.
Love her as I’ve loved her steeled
heart, concealing fracture. Sorry
some day, she will shatter. Today is just
            her dumb brave act of translation:
from her pain she makes a music of our
            cries. Ah, sweet demented
conductor. And generous—dividing
            her burdens among us like wealth.