A Red Painted Poppy

Jackie Sizemore

Lick the chocolate icing off my fingers with a medieval castle for a view. We are in the gardens,
always more gardens, of Château de Fontainebleau. Sun beats through sunscreen onto our
Scandinavian and Irish complexions, respectively. Soft conversations buzz in the summer air. A
bee circles my leg like a dog leash. I ask my heart not to panic. I have a problem with flying,
stinging insects. It shoots away, returns. I kick my feet. Away, back. The bee has desires.
Floating above my flower-patterned shoes, it is fixated. Love is a red painted poppy on a leather
lace up. The bee lands, flicking its tongue in vain at the perfect black center. My shoes are many
things, but they cannot produce pollen. We laugh, poor bee. Another foot movement for scare.
The bee says, “absolutely not, that flower is mine.” The bee has claimed the flower of my left
foot and though it sucks and sucks, its tiny insect mouth remains dry.


With no hometown to speak of, Jackie Sizemore comes from the Rustbelt, the South, and Tokyo. Her poetry has appeared in Noble / Gas Qtrly, Print Oriented Bastards, and Yes Poetry. Prose has appeared in magazines such as Entropy, Crab Orchard Review, Mojo/Mikrokosmos, and more, and is forthcoming in Iron Horse Literary Review. Jackie’s work was listed as a Notable Essay in the Best American Essays 2018, made the top twenty for the 2022 Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize, and earned SAFTA and Wildacres residencies. She received her MFA from Boise State University and BA from Carnegie Mellon University.

© Variant Literature Inc 2023