Baltimore: March 25, 1949

Clutching handfuls of steel- cut oatmeal to ash she waits, famished in a single stall when the ice dealers open it she gulps air and dashes out, overturning tubs of daffodils, hyacinth, lilac, tearing through aisles of victuals and viands, long hem dripping flames lobsters death-whistle, boiling in their tanks while pulled-taffy droops liquid, fresh-flaked coconut snaps, goose skin puckers, crisps, and she licks drippings off her lips. Outside, twenty-four engines, six ambulances, in the nearby hospital ready to evacuate: new mothers ginger with fresh stitches and leaking nipples while she pops unshucked oysters, deep-fries fresh muskrat, incinerates crabcakes and, with their wax paper melted in her teeth, slurps up the juice at the bottom of a smoking oak pickle barrel.

SHELLEY PUHAK lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Her first collection, Stalin in Aruba, was released by Black Lawrence Press in 2009. Her poems appear in Alaska Quarterly Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, New South, and other journals.