Garden of Halos
by Katharine VanDewark Katharine VanDewark

Katharine VanDewark was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and lived a bicoastal life as a child. Moves were regular—every three years—with final settlement in Southern California, where she graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a BFA in painting. She has been a fine art photographer and dancer, and has been writing poetry since the 1980s. She hosts a monthly writing group in her living room and seeks out open mike nights to read her poetry and hear that of others.

Her work has been published in the Poetry in the Garden anthology and in Coracle. She is grateful for the guidance and instruction she received from Regina O'Melveny, Peter Levitt, Jeff McDaniel, Jack Grapes, and Suzanne Lummis.

I waited behind the closed front door
for the postman to make his delivery and leave,
humming. Someone had sent me
a pair of burnt lips. I held them
up to my own, looking at our face in the mirror.
Bone clappers went off in my brain
as the first thoughts of trying them on surfaced.

I took it as a warning and ignored it, figuring
I could get them on with the aid of
iced tea spoons and gold leaf. I remembered
I had hidden the leaf inside one of seven
unwound clocks, but which was it? One of the two
sharing the painted yellow chair? Or
was it the one hanging from the cheek
of the palomino horse head on the wall?

I took aim at the other three, closed my eyes
and smashed them to polka dots with
shards from my infancy. I had been right!
There was the gold leaf, floating in a
pool of swastikas. Now all I needed
were the iced tea spoons. I screamed like holy
hell (I was losing patience rapidly)
and thought I heard them rustle in the patch
of jimsonweed by the door. I peered
into its depths, and there they were,
dreaming of hair halos and humming a
Bartok string quartet. Egad! The postman must
have influenced their REM sleep.

I picked them up—
they were cold as the rings of Saturn.
Carefully applying a sheet of gold leaf
to the back of two of the spoons, I rubbed
my cheek with one and the burnt lips
with the other. I pressed firmly
and looked in the mirror.

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