Robin Carstensen

For Every Time She Walked Around

 “Cars Give Weaker Sex Means to Act Upon Sudden Rage”
                             ...Hampden County authorities said the murder of Richard Rutkowski
                                did not involve cheating or a history of violence, only an argument over
                                a fishing trip that spiraled out of control.
                                                                                                        Thursday, August 19, 2004


Maybe if the sycamores had been pruned
to grow tall instead of wide, they wouldn’t
have reached low down when Starleen
went walking under a pastel morning
fog the day her husband went fishing.
Though she was trained to walk around,
maybe their leaves reached her
anyway—lace fingertips, no apologies
when she brushed them from her face.
We can imagine this inspired her
rage to pierce hard ground, once
accepting not even trees have to beg.
Did she take a shower after walking,
then go to work to be in charge?
Before the oily sky pushed one blood
orange drop into gauzy blue,
maybe she wanted to be the cardinal
swaying on the top leaf, or simply a girl
up in a tree before someone taught her
not to climb, before the world was trained
to grow up to the stars, stiffen at people
lower to the ground, before she had learned
to walk around. Could anyone have heard
her cry at the geese flying by: Is it sad
to see a grown woman acting like a tree
or like a child who needs to climb one?
Did anyone see her missing her work,
missing her life, waiting in the car all day
for the one to whom she was wed-locked,
the man she walked around, sometimes
on tip toe, no loud noises, no holes in walls.
We could believe for every time she walked
around, this time she would reach better—
make contact, foot on pedal far as it would
go. For certain this time she had full control.

Robin Carstensen served four years as an associate editor for the Cimarron Review at Oklahoma State University where she earned her PhD in English, in Spring 2011. Her most recent work is published or forthcoming in Tar River Poetry, Mad Hatter's Review, Zocalo Public Square, South Dakota Review, and elsewhere. She currently writes and teaches in South Texas where Texas Hold 'Em is divine and porch cats rule the roost.