Mademoiselle Ravoux

–on the painting by Van Gogh

The sunflowers grow taller this year.
They nearly touch the sun. I climb a ladder
and cut their heads off. I settle into time
and the ways it betrays me.
The old canal tastes everything,
but especially skin. It laps up against legs
in its waters, it splashes the arms of men
untying ropes of boats.
I have seen time drifting past me,
in its mosaic pieces, flowing like a current
of broken glass. It is more blue than the sky
the sunflowers live in, more blue than the canal,
an entirely new blue of voice and throat,
of a mouth full of teeth.
I am submerged in this current,
I bite down on this life,
clench it like a wolf at a carcass
in winter, unaware this bone
is not the meat I hunger for.

Kassandra Montag grew up in rural Nebraska and now lives in Omaha with her husband and two sons. She holds a master’s degree in English Literature and her award-winning poetry and short fiction has appeared in journals and anthologies, including Midwestern Gothic, Nebraska Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and Mystery Weekly MagazineAfter the Flood is her first novel.