Alice Brasser © 2019

Alice Brasser © 2019


by Erin Redfern



That summer we worked and waited
for our lives to open
like velvet curtains, a throttle,
or a blouse.

Nights we’d put girls and campfires
to bed, race down dark paths to the lake.
Witching sky
between pines. Pattern  

of roots underfoot. Shed clothes
on the sand. We’d run the dunes,
leaping salamanders asleep at the water’s edge,
and swim  

to the black middle, spin until stars reeled,
trailing milky arms through the spilled
skin of that water,
pondweed kicked from our ankles.             

Then the mid-August afternoon
we saw Jelly Bean,
Head Counselor in Buccaneers,
walking toward the Lodge, naked

and strumming those hymns.
What divinity
would strip a girl so clean of sin
that a worn guitar strap            

chafed her pale belly red?
Sun-struck hair, eyes
upturned, whole bared body

What was her real name? We never asked
where she went
or was taken, why, after that,
she just disappeared.


Erin Redfern’s work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in the New Ohio Review, Fire & Rain: Ecopoetry of California (Scarlet Tanager Books), and New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust (New Voices Project). Her chapbook is Spellbreaking and Other Life Skills (Blue Lyra Press Delphi Series).