The Green Flash

by Sandra Beasley

My father says that when the yellow sun meets the blue sea
at clearest dusk, you can see a green flash.
Even now I turn my eyes dutifully to the horizon.

I always flipped to the last page first.
I swallowed watermelon seeds, then waited. I split open a family
of Matroyshka dolls and tapped the baby’s head, hoping it too was hollow.

If you sealed a cat in a box and never peeked it would live forever,
but I’d be picking at the lock by day two.
I read about Orpheus and stood in front of the mirror,

glancing over my shoulder just to see Eurydice drop away.
I studied Houdini’s act: easing chains, slipping knots,
never revealing the secret of his escape. How could he

resist? I liked a trick, but what I loved was the reveal.
In his office, my mother found the roll of photographs—
twenty-one images of smiling fidelity—and stopped there.

Not me. I wanted to see those other three frames.
I dug around for the negatives. I went to the window.
I held my father up to that ruthless sun and looked, and looked.

Sandra Beasley is the author of three books: I Was the Jukebox, which won the 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize; Theories of Falling, which won the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize; and Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, a memoir and cultural history of food allergies. She lives in Washington, D.C. “The Green Flash” also appears in Theories of Falling.

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