My Paris Birthday
In the early morning, mother and I stroll the Catacombs.
Empty skulls stacked fifty deep. In each,
five dark openings to take life in, let breath out.
A beetle crawls through a bullet hole.
In the Picasso Museum, Carlos Casagemas,
captive of Picasso’s canvas, longs
to cover the gunshot wound to his temple.
His blood flows forever for all to see.
The beginning of his Blue Period says the docent.
Testimony to my Love’s rejection mumbles Carlos.
At the Opera House, Salome kisses the lips
of the saint’s severed head plated for her pleasure.
Music of her savage desire scored by Strauss.
Where is my cake? Where is my celebration?
In Place Dauphine, a lone bird defecates on my yellow hair.
My mother, whose blood runs black with disease,
toasts my good fortune. On the day of my birth,
in the city of lights, I see only death,
my dying mother, only luminance.
Merna Dyer Skinner
This poem was previously published in the author's chapbook, A Brief History of Two Aprons, Finishing Line Press, 2016.
Merna Dyer Skinner is the eighth-generation granddaughter of Quaker martyr Mary Barrett Dyer. Her chapbook, A Brief History of Two Aprons, was published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press. Individual poems appear in literary journals including Mojave River Review, Silver Birch Press, Star 82 Review, and in the 2019 anthology, Pocket Poems. Forthcoming, in 2021, The Poeming Pigeon’s anthology From Pandemic to Protest will include two of her poems. She is an alumna of the Kenyon Review Poetry Workshop, Tupelo Press Workshop, and Community of Writers. She holds an MA in Communication Studies from Emerson College. She’s lived in six U.S. states, and traveled to five continents.
The Ekphrastic Review
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