Virginia Chase Sutton – Two Poems


 

Chrysanthemums

My father, bronzed god beneath glistering
diamonds of glass, stalked the greenhouses,
wrapped in a large black hose. It had a gentle

top that sprayed water onto plants to not
bruise tender flowers. Some plants
were ready to sell downtown at the wholesale
house, others still little knots with spiky

feathers ready to unfurl. Then there were
babies, sticks in pots, each readied for the next
cycle. Pale lavenders, golds, whites reached

towards roof light. I played at potting stations
all around the greenhouse, where ever I
could be closest to my father as he paced each
aisle, deadheading, clipping useless broken

buds with his sharp knife. I watched sand
and rich soil pack into my teacups, never far
away, but busy with my important task. Sometimes

I followed my father at a distance, not wanting
to get too close to his temper should something
set him off, something the hired help might do.
I watched his smooth muscles as they knotted.

He was always bare-chested, the rarified air
so thick with longing that it was hard to breathe.
The hose reminded me of his vast thickness that poked

out of his body nights when he visited me,
when I pleasured him much the way he pleasured
me. As I stepped behind him in the greenhouse
I selected the prettiest of broken blossoms,

the ones knocked to the gravel walkway.
I gathered them into bouquets of mixed color,
a bride who staked her groom. We met at the end

of every aisle and he tossed each bouquet away.
Just trash he said though my young heart broke
at seeing good but stumpy flowers tumbling toward
their deaths. But never mind—I was the bride

again behind him in the next aisle and the next
as I swallowed the spiced odor, the heavy taste,
and waited my turn for a fistful of castaways.


 

 

Three Hours Later

I could spend every night with you,
watch your curled joy—smooth brown
fur, golden and glossy fox slipped

beneath its skin where muscles knot
then relax with every breath. I’m sitting
beneath the open window. Freezing air

rustles bedclothes we tossed aside a short
time ago. We are still naked and I’m
wide awake. Looking at you my heart pounds

that extra beat that doctors hate. Extra heat.
Sometimes when I’m with you, I feel gorgeous
and strong. Now I’m exhausted from our loving.

I pull the sheet to my waist and listen
to the heaviest of silence outdoors.
The falling snow is thickly wet, perfect for

our night. Privacy, door locked, but
I cannot close the window for I ache
for you, listening as snow drapes each

house and porch and anything someone
foolishly left outdoors. Snowflakes
by the tens, hundreds, perhaps even a million—

sift through the window, settle on my
warm shoulders where they melt into
droplets of water. You stir. Perhaps

the room is too cold for you and I look
foolish powdered in snow. Soon you
will wake. How many more kisses exchange

tonight? Right now I’m ready to join you
in sleep, only I know we will wake to more
touching, making our night sex and dreams.


 

Author’s Statement on Beauty

I have spent my life searching for beauty, from a gold compact stolen from my mother in childhood, to cardboard furniture when we could not afford anything else, to the row of parrots sitting on the backyard fence last week. While there is a great deal of ugliness everywhere, I prefer beauty, even when mixed with difficult subject matter. Without beauty, how do we survive? I like to think I find beauty from something as small as a cologne bottle glittering on a glass tray to sexual love to the difficulties of childhood sexual abuse in its framework. Beauty is everywhere and we could not live an enlightened life without it.


 

Virginia Chase Sutton’s third book was published last year by Knut House Press. Her second book won the Morse Poetry Prize. Sutton’s first was Embellishments (Chatoyant). Her poems have appeared in the Paris Review, Amethyst Arsenic, Ploughshares, and many other journals, magazines, and anthologies. Sutton won the Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry at Bread Loaf and the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. More at: virginiachasesutton.com.