The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: “All in the Family” by Courtney LeBlanc

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“Oily Mess”

I held the tiny
kitten in my little girl hands,
oil dripping from her body
as if the Exxon Valdez had just
spilled its black mess over her.
It had in a way, the weeks-old
kitten fell into a bucket of oil
in my father’s workshop.
Now I clutched
her oil-soaked body
in my hands and presented her
to my mother.
I believed my mother was the healer
of all things – skinned knees
and nearly dead kittens alike.
She took the oily mess
from me and dunked it gently
into the warm soapy water.
She continued dunking
and scrubbing and rinsing,
its tiny mouth mewing
in protest as the mama cat
circled around us.
My mother plunged her in a final
time, washing away all her oily
sins, then rubbed her with the line-dried
towel, the rough cotton moving
over her virgin fur.
I brushed away tears with my oily
hands, left streaks on my skin
my mother didn’t bother to
wash away.


This selection comes from the poetry collection All in the Family, available from Bottlecap Press. Order your copy here.

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of chapbooks Siamese Sisters and All in the Family (Bottlecap Press). She is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Public Pool, Rising Phoenix ReviewThe LegendaryGerm MagazineQuail Bell Magazine, Brain Mill Press, and others. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, or find her on Facebook.

Twitter: @wordperv

Beth Couture‘s work can be found in a number of journals and anthologies, including Gargoyle, Drunken Boat, The Southeast Review, Ragazine, and Thirty Under Thirty from Starcherone Books. Her novella, Women Born with Fur, was published by Jaded Ibis Press in 2014 as part of its Blue Bustard Novellas series. She graduates with her Master’s in Social Work at Bryn Mawr College in May, and she lives in West Philly with her husband and five cats.

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