Sara Quinn Rivara

When I Say Love I Mean El Greco’s The Assumption of the Virgin


where she rises from a crowd
of men into the sky, how she throws open
her arms and floats into a cloud of gold.
She’s the only woman in the room.
And isn’t that
what I’m supposed to want? to be the only woman
worth lifting into the clouds, bride
on her wedding day, mayflies buzzing
around all our heads.
Mayflies have no mouths.
Chicago is chiaroscuro
this time of year when light is eaten
by the Lake and salt stains
our legs. But maybe
the angels are women,
who can tell, beauty is cold.
Them: swallow-winged and radiant,
round and rosy cheeked, maybe
this is where all the women go,
raptured up to heaven
with our men and their guns
our lipstick and our big tits.
Up here with the angels and the dead
it smells like Pine Sol and bleach. My first marriage
bares its tiny cubic zirconium
teeth. Sundogs spiral over the Lake.
When I say love it means
I’m supposed to carry everything
and I’m afraid I’ll kill it.

Sara Quinn Rivara is the author of Animal Bride (Tinderbox Editions) and Lake Effect (Aldrich Press). Her poetry and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Cherry Tree, West Branch, Dunes Review, Pithead Chapel, Crab Creek Review, 32 Poems Magazine, Blackbird and numerous other places. A native of the Great Lakes region, she now lives with her partner and their children in Portland, Oregon. She is also a classically trained singer, and performs with a variety of choral groups around the Pacific Northwest.

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