We Won’t Make it to the Talkies

posted May 5, 2015

The bad man lashed me to the tracks,
then laughed. The front row ladies gasped
as in the paper distance, between
the painted hills, a freight train

suddenly appeared. You rescued me
on horseback & we galloped off
unharmed, hooves kicking a confetti
of dust across imitation desert.

When the time arrived to kiss
we danced. I swooned on cue. You wooed
by rote. I knew that you romanced
me for the camera only. Still I felt

your palm raise heat across my back
as we tapped through our final dance.
The words we never spoke just flashed
across the screen. The silences

I felt for you unhorsed me, love,
and then you left. I called for you
but couldn’t hear my voice above
applause. The pianist played us out.

Nancy Reddy is the author of Double Jinx: Poems (Milkweed Editions, 2015), winner of the 2014 National Poetry Series. Her poems have most recently appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, 32 Poems, and Smartish Pace. She is a doctoral candidate in Composition and Rhetoric at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she also earned her MFA in poetry.

We’ve published three more poems by Reddy: “Before & After, Botched,” “Rabbit Starvation,” and “Come Fetch.”