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The Art of the Exes - by Sara Henning


The Art of Exes

Twenty-three years old and I’m bracing the door,
though my love was strong enough to cleave
the deadbolt, though his touch meant bruises

secreted in long blouses, shoulders struck
the color of wild strawberry. Nineteen
and the boy I’d given my virginity is home

for summer and I won’t take off his sweatshirt,
because his grandmother found him
overdosed on pills, called to say she’s sorry,

his face is still beautiful, the surge of tantrums
she’d rocked him through as a baby finally
redeemed his sleep. And now, when the dark ruse

of your ex-wife is everywhere, I think of her
hair in the last photo you have of her—
it was sun-smothered blonde, stunned by light.

She must know how the body you built
together refuses to yield; intimacy is its own
heredity. How the stun stays on until you

own what you love. When I close my eyes,
it’s teaching my body. I close my eyes and still
feel their hands.


Sara Henning is the author of To Speak of Dahlias (Finishing Line Press, 2012), which is available for purchase at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/To-Speak-Dahlias-Sara-Henning/dp/1622291573) or Finishing Line Press (https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product_info.php?products_id=1093). Her poetry, fiction, interviews and book reviews have appeared in such journals as So To Speak, Verse, and Willow Springs. Currently a doctoral student in English and Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota, she serves as Circulations Manager for The South Dakota Review. “The Art of Exes” is forthcoming from the anthology Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013).



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