By William Aarnes

Pressing her father’s hand

to the swollen belly,

her mother had laughed,

“Boy, she means business.”

And, as the child

playmates never found

in the murk of the crawlspace,

she meant business

playing hide and seek.

For much of her fourteenth year

she meant business

huddled in the shade-drawn dusk

of her room

composing the note

she might leave behind.

She meant business

anytime she watched a date’s face

in the passing headlights

as she took his hand

from the steering wheel

and guided it to her thigh.

She meant business in college,

particularly in the dark room.

She meant business

focusing on her lover,

traveling with him,

wandering around the towns at night,

studying his face under streetlights,

always leaving her camera behind.

She meant business

mourning the stillbirth.

Then she meant business

those last six weeks in bed,

getting the twins to term,

their father’s hand often

on her swollen belly.

She meant business

composing the note

she would leave behind

any time the night came

to leave the note behind.

And now she means business

as she studies the face

of the man who’s brought the plans

for her own dark room.


William Aarnes teaches at Furman University.  His poems have appeared recently in Kakalak, The Vocabula Review, and The Dirty Napkin.

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