Stella

by Jennifer Perrine

Stella ran her hand along the underside
of her leg, one swoop from ankle
to knee, feeling the stubble of her still

unshaven legs stiffen against her palm.
Jimmy had been laboring for hours
beneath the flaking frame of the Pontiac propped

on its jack in the driveway. Stella watched him
through the screen door. Only his feet
were visible, his thick boots resting

in the pool of oil, the iridescent cloud
thin as cellophane slowly floating
towards the edge of the lawn. She thought

of how careless Jimmy could get, how he would toss
his match anywhere he pleased, and the yard
would blaze, a beacon sending pulses

of tangerine recklessness down the street.
Stella returned to the kitchen, pulled the thick-handled
knife from its case, weighed it in the fleshy

curve of her palm. She listened
to the tiny clicks of metal on metal
in the drive, thought of all she needed to do.

Jennifer Perrine’s first collection of poems, The Body Is No Machine (New Issues, 2007), won the 2008 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry. Her second book, In the Human Zoo (University of Utah Press, 2011), received the 2010 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize. She lives in Des Moines, Iowa.

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