How to Date

by Brandi Nicole Martin

Let the wisteria vine
                                       my mother cut from her mother’s
mother’s relic shrub
                                       instruct. Every man in my family
is dead. My mother
                                       once asked if we’d take some,
those vines, us
                                       daughters who twine clockwise
around what support
                                       we find, the sun biting as the light
of an X-Ray.
                                       Last night, Adam paid for my meal.
I hate to
                                       explain this: I get called whore
because I look
                                       a certain way. I have sex
before I tell men
                                       my name. I bought a floral-print
dress, yesterday,
                                       to try for change. I want my skin
younger, stomach
                                       tighter. I want my grief
smeared away,
                                       rain smacking down like a duvet
until my father
                                       wakes, not lifeless in ‘91 but here
for a phone call
                                       to say something fatherly,
overprotective,
                                       about how Adam better not whisk me
to Adam’s place
                                       lest my father’s wrath become thunderous
as a tin roof
                                       in hail. It’s beautiful outside today.
I swear I hear
                                       the growth, every green seed
fumbling open.
                                       All our plants remind us
that after burial
                                       something violet remains. My mother
is thriving.
                                       I’m climbing as high as I can.

Brandi Nicole Martin’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the Cincinnati Review, Prairie Schooner, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Bennington Review, Willow Springs, Third Coast, and At Length, among others. During work on her PhD in Poetry at Florida State University, she was the recipient of the 2016 Emerging Writer’s Spotlight award, selected by D.A. Powell.