She Remembers the First Time

by Emily Rose Cole

That night, you smelled like the crook
of a dead man’s neck, like the breath of cologne
he spritzed there before he kissed his wife goodbye.

He couldn’t have known a piece of his lung would smooch
the sidewalk later that day. You nudged me awake
with the butt of your Colt,  grin cocked

& loaded, said, Baby, we gotta skip town. I heard
the rattlesnake in your chest shimmy & whisper
in my mama’s voice, girl, you better run.

Our fingers locked & poised like hammers in a gun.
Clyde, when you ordered me that first whiskey
sour, I knew we would die with lead in our mouths.

Emily Rose Cole is a poet and tea lover from Pennsylvania. She is the winner of the Nancy D. Hargrove Editor’s Prize, the Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize, an Academy of American Poets University Prize, and the Sandy Crimmins Award. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod, Fugue, Jabberwock Review, and Gulf Stream, among others.