Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace1
by Carol Berg

The gold chain wrapped around
your throat menaces me.
The sky is in the basement with
empty beer bottles and discarded baby
seats. You think mice have invaded
but really they’re clouds making all that mess
clouds that risk their throats for the steel you’ve
laid bare. You come in with your tools
and bring me down down the stairs
again to show me. The goats are tied up here
bleating. I want their solace I want
their sturdy hooves. The dryer turns
its unconventional rotation into a study
of wheels of cogs of squeals. I squeeze
the washcloths and soap refuses
to come out to release itself to vacate.
I wish for the vacancies of garages
of cupboards holding the last of the Halloween
candy bars. I try to refuse the bleach you
offer try to refuse your stares.
Your leash singing on the hook.

IMAGE: “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace” (detail) by Frida Kahlo (1922).

Carol reading1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol Berg’s poems are forthcoming or in The Journal, Spillway, Sou’wester, Redactions, Pebble Lake Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and Verse Wisconsin.  Her most recent chapbook, Her Vena Amoris, is available from Red Bird Chapbooks. She lives in Massachusetts.