Matt Terhune

Southern Gothic with Doric Column

Not the cotillion girls, swimming

in meringue, Queen Gorgo, diaphor[n]ous,

    coiled in her basket of chiton, but the hardscrabble

ones–– coal-silver hips flinting like granite, burgundy

        clay jacking their fingertips––

    shoot marbles with the boys

on the long elbow of the pebbled drive. Out back,

a girl takes the sweltering in

                    like a fist of coal,

issues long fingers of fume

                    from her mouth,

ribboned bone becoming ash, mot juste,


In the pantry, four

sets of anxious, alabaster eyes search

        like flashlights barbing night:

        black wrists whip through pots.

In a bedroom, boy poses flowers like

a peacock, drags mother’s maroon

    rouge across his lips. Upstairs,

            an absurdity of a man

swells on the veranda–– stampede

of black hair, seersucker suit, Corinthian

        hood, horsehair plume––recedes

into a gown of magnolia, petals

shudder like tongues, near-whisper

    with smoke.