Karen Rigby-


Coconut milk, vinegar, serranos, cumin
and salt, the bowl darkens to the shade

of a new leaf while I’m butterflying
shrimp the way I did those mornings

I stood beside my mother wishing
we lived in a city of starred pollen,

four seasons instead of fire and aguacero.
I miss the green walls on either side

of the road, the scent I look for in every
page below the Tropic of Cancer.

Mid-winter, I’m wrapping noodles
in rice sheets until they fold in shapes

like heart-of-palm or something to give
my mother, the blue crown licking

the paila. Last fall the tumor
in her breast multiplied darkness,

and though it was nothing, I thank her
for the green glossaries all those years.



I slide on the camisole
printed with rosettes. Scent the back

of both knees.
He snaps the blinds.

Unplugs the phone. The dropcloth
spread across the table

and oak chairs becomes my field:
I circle stones, he trails

behind, binoculars
in hand. Leopards

vocalize at dusk, a rasping in the air,
they hunt alone,

warn others in their range.
The light to gauge by is chestnut-colored silk.



1881, any of a genus of the four-o’clock family
of ornamental tropical American woody vines.

1 | n. Bracts like tiny lanterns: fuchsia, orange
ice and double-tongues cascading down
the iron balconies and walls. Fireworks no one
would cut.

2 | syn. The lip-sticked mouths of girls grew
feverish with rain. 3 | At thirteen, I lived inside
the column of my dress, had not been
kissed. I wrote my name on the jackets of old
books; whole archives stored beneath the vines.
4 | Tincture in the womb-not one of us had

5 | v. I scissored hair to my chin. Shook
crows from my lungs. 6 | The boy I loved
spun witchery in my palm.

“Bougainvillea” was originally published in Ache Magazine,
Vol. 002, Vision & Voice, 2002.


Karen Rigby’s second chapbook, Savage Machinery, was published in 2008 by Finishing Line Press.  Her first chapbook, Festival Bone, was published by Adastra Press in 2004. She received a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2007.