Tara Skurtu



Before you knew words, you’d toddle
open-mouthed, chomp down on the leg

of a table, couch arm, seated ass
of a grown-up. In a memory that isn’t

quite mine, you took a chunk
of my cheek between your square

milk teeth. I bit back, and Mom snapped
a close-up. On my right cheek, an imperfect

Morse of dashes shapes your open mouth—
and on your left, my more perfected bite.


Thigh-high weed grass in the front yard.
Scarves of Spanish moss, a spray-painted
anarchy sign on the trunk of the thickest oak.

Through a window, crusted dishes in the sink,
stacks of records, a high school watercolor,
blanket on the couch. Everything the way it was.

Through another, the giant happy face
Dad drew on the bedroom wall in Sharpie
to cheer up Amber, still smiling in the dark.

The backyard pool, full of gurgling frogs
and larvae under a land-like sheet of algae.
Mosquitoes humming, thick as dust motes.

TARA SKURTU is a Teaching Fellow and MFA candidate at Boston University. She’s a recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Marcia Keach Poetry Prize. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in the Minnesota Review, Poetry Review, The Dalhousie Review, Hanging Loose, Salamander, Poet Lore, The Los Angeles Review, The Southeast Review, Hiram Poetry Review, Orbis Quarterly International, The Comstock Review, and elsewhere.


Read more by Tara Skurtu:

Author website and poems