Tina Barry – Three Poems


White Legs in Green Water

I dreamed of the lake’s soft water,
my sister and I

small white legs kicking.
Our parents on a pale blue blanket,

finishing soured sandwiches
while their skin fried pink in the sun.

We floated, bellies heavenward,
tutus of their cigarette smoke,

hovering, little portents of doom.
We were too young, too dumb to heed.

Dumb as apples bobbing.
Be careful, they warned

of the men who would hold us,
arms brittled roads

forever in need of patching,
hearts worn to mist,

who we’d love well
and too long.


Tonight One Regret

calls insistent. I shape it into a bouquet and offer
it to the teacher who cast me as the lead
in a play with a title I no longer remember.

I tell her I imagined myself a white cane clanking on
on the stage. The words I refused to learn huddled like
punished children in the script.

Instead of tissue paper, I bundle the blooms in woven
pine needles. She had loved the twist in a story,
our ideas a million hand-curled streamers.

The flowers confuse her. I’m one more kid
with an apology. I wish I could blot out
her face. How its glow lit the first row,
the stage, the road home that evening.


My Twenties

The apartment’s tiny window offered a specific view of small dogs in frantic circles. Hurried boots. The unfortunate pairing of sneakers and stockings. I came to know my neighbors by the shoes they chose. On some days, I left the shades up and created my own vignettes: A Christmas tree in July adorned with one stuffed bird. A black suit arranged on my bed, sleeves crossed over its chest, as if it were sleeping. A giant disco ball over a baby’s crib. I fantasized about kissing the calves of the woman in the wine suede pumps. When choosing a male, select those with argyle socks and impeccable leather wingtips. They’re worth the effort.


Mall Flower, Tina Barry’s book of poems and short fiction (Big Table Publishing, 2015), received two Pushcart Prize nominations. One story won a place in the Best Small Fictions 2016 anthology. Her work has been included in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, including Drunken Boat and Blue Fifth Notebook. More at: tinabarrywriter.com.