Engagement Party, Georgia

Raena Shirali

     I left Lover when I found dirt roads—party for another
couple, soirée complete with deer heads lining a fixed-up barn’s walls,

     absinthe, strung lights. In pairs, we played pissing games—
collect the most Monopoly money, hurry

     to tie the knot most gracefully, without a hitch in the line.
Fever trees in the distance waved their unadorned leaflets. Everyone abuzz

     with talk of the rural setting. Oh, quaint wedding. Oh, quiet ceremony. Lover
called me over to admire the heads on the taupe walls: deer pelt,

     pliant skin. We spoke of pre-party waxes, manicures, facials.
Judged by fur, or its lack, we girls—alert

     to being overheard—looked down, giggled into plastic cups of chardonnay.
Are we always measured in such terms of smoothness? Pink balloons deflated

     at leisure. Lover studied the tanned, mounted hide.
Out in the backwoods, I thought stars would flare

     like an angiogram, that the vast pasture would daunt
at two a.m., that something like fear

     would crawl out from the black between trees & force me
to stay, but the acres swaddled me in moonlight:

     placental, ancient. I wasn’t a fragrant bouquet of anything
but a thing without roots to put down in this field