Anna Kisby

Bathing Jesse James


I do it on the back porch.

He fills it up. Always on a Wednesday.

It’s a quiet day. No one passing


to admire the curling hair on each bare haunch,

the apple at his throat exposed, or yesterday’s

bullet holes like white petals blown onto his skin.


I swear his scent’s like milk from a stalk

cut from dandelion, or waving prairie daisy.

My husband is a clean man.


He sings, You are my swaying ear of corn

as I straighten and lean to sponge him again.

I let my yellow hair swing


to tickle his knees as I kiss him upside-down

where molars glint, crowned with gold. Some say

he stole the lives of seventeen strong men.


I soap each toe, the crooked ankle broken by a horse.

Windstorm’s coming. Feel it in my bones. Sideways

he looks at me, then blinks, like looking at the sun.




Anna Kisby lives in Brighton and works as an archivist. Her poetry has been placed in competitions and published in magazines including Mslexia, Orbis, Poetry News, Seam and South Bank Poetry. She was winner of the New Writer poetry competition 2011.




Bathing Jesse James was previously published in Mslexia, Issue 43, 2009.


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