Four Poems by Caitlin Downs

Abby Naked in the Orchard

Dew settling, nipples erect, areolae puckering
as if the surrounding skin is soured,
not cold enough for frost,
but the bite in the air warns us.
Abby stripped and ran the tree line,
arms extended, head hung back in laughter,
shaking her ribcage, contracting her diaphragm.

The farmers here have been known
to shoot the air angrily in harvest season,
but to the devil with them, I follow
that candy sweet smile, the tongue
still thick with cider, those legs
now wet up to the hips,
running slickly through the tall grass.

In one lame thrusting gesture
I grab her arm, change
the direction of her force toward me,
and in the contact of the moment
smile covers up, eyes darken and she squirms–
Bastard. How hard she wrenches herself,
but eventually slumps down,
her body becoming mounds
sacked in a heap beneath
the canvas of my jacket.

Like the Grace of God, So Moves Music

They were there, the Doves
the Doves, like whirling white
that spun like my car, white,
around and around– that music,
sweet music, and the words
I did not heed, words and lyrics
not the same, and we just stayed
seated as we spun, we were spinning
through an open grassy field,
the lull around us, the lullaby–
before and after, the grass so green
and a light rain, warm summer rain
beading on the grass that we spun
through, and I missed the sign,
just missed and didn’t listen,
didn’t heed the words, and you
were there, just sitting, while we spun,
until we stopped, we cut the corner,
I cut the wheel and turned, we spun
where we were turned around,
facing a new direction once stopped,
and you just sat up and said
you’d check the wheels and
the Doves, they say, they played
and the grass was shining white and wet
and I watched you, saw the grass,
the short cropped blades on the white–
the car was fine, we were fine and
the sweetest electronic melodies
were still playing when we
moved to the Doves again.

Beating the Way to Pittsburgh

We back-tracked to a motel passed,
the Be$t Val-U, the cheapest stay.
They first quoted us an hourly rate.
They were surprised we’d stay the night.
A windowless room with walls
of pale painted cement blocks.
The sheets seemed pre-used,
seventies style leopard print
faded half way off the comforter.
Simple two bed, nightstand, and
expansive veneered dresser
with a ten foot wide mirror
reflecting the whole of the room
set us up for the evening.
The TV was chained to a fridge,
which was chained to a chair,
which was bolted to the wall,
which was peeling its paint.
A balcony held a beautiful
view of the highway we’d traveled.
We set our communal alarm
and still slept past check out,
the noon sun would have woken us
should it have had the chance.
The be$t thing about that stay
was watching Jimi fall asleep like a yogi,
knees up with hands as support beams
for the tent he made of ten dollar sheets.

At Least the Music Can Stop

A woman based
in bars and repetition,
lean with longings,
her ankles lead to feet
sliding out of shoes
and against khakis.
The bangles clash,
plastics gleaming
in the dim and dank,
lights on runways
leading into hangers.
Hips jut and cut back,
dive and invert,
drag in harder
than current or rhythm.
Rumpled chiffon,
creased and growing
heavy from those
long, heated nights
on that damn chase.
Ends are loose,
and ties aren’t
as neatly tied
as the hair is
smoothed back
in a tidy wave
of dun,
undone
again.


Caitlin Downs is an adjunct professor who navigates the triangle between three colleges in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the US of A. An alumna of Arcadia University, her poetry has appeared in The University of Edinburgh Journal and she contributes to The Triangle PA local arts community.
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