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Erin Elizabeth Smith

Alice Recounts the Unfortunate Accident with Bonne and the Rabbit

When she shot into the woods
she never meant to kill the rabbit.

One loaded rifle and a man said aim
into the reddish bank,

a color that was almost the sun
in Texas, or at least the way she saw

it set into the sand.
Bonne held the gun to her shoulder

and the handle of it fit
like the way you try on dresses

and know. Then all he told her
was to pull. That slim wick

of a trigger. Just into the hill.
And she did. And the small tumble

of a rabbit fell from the woods.
She was trying,

but maybe she should have
killed that hare before it took

out its pocket-watch and told us
a lie about time. Where everything

would be turned to what we could
believe in, a place much more

strange and predictable
than our own.

February in Knoxville

The lawn finally goes brown
with a dusting of leaves and turned earth.
The stalks of daffodils invert

and the purple husks of berries
hang like baskets from their vines.
February, and there's no more snow,

just the showy wind making everything
crackle. Still, the city blinks in blue
and white, its people wrapped up

liked crunchy gifts. I breathe
into cupped hands, walk
the streets that turn

into other streets, and watch
as the sun kicks light off our city's
strange sphere. We cannot choose

where we love—a place picks us
from the flyaway denizens who root
and seed, from the boxes that open

and reseal with no hands to lift them.
Sometimes we empty and are never
filled. Sometimes the rosemary

lasts through winter and the mint comes
back like a hero on her masted ship.
And sometimes the sweetness

of cities and seasons is enough
to clean the body of its harm,
and we must take

what lives to the lips,
to see if maybe,
maybe it can heal us again.

Alice on OKCupid

I know the way men look at me.
The long line of my legs in heels,
their flat palms pressed on an opening door.
They are too easy to find –

the counselor with his electric smokes,
that doctoral candidate and his small
town eyes, the tiny child of a med student
who still thinks of martinis as James Bond cool.

I spend my nights on the front porch,
the fireflies blinking indecipherably
in code. Sometimes there are men
who watch me smoke, waiting

for the bedsheets and tussle, the sweet
way they think I succumb. But there is nothing
soft left, just the edge of new ice
in a glass, the smoke blown from a nostril

like a bull pawing at his animated dirt,
the damages I create from the body.
And each evaporates into the morning,
ghosts spooked by their own transparency.

➥ Bio