the good stories are about the bad
Medea, chopping up children
(add a salad and a glass of
milk, and you have a balanced meal).
leaving you in the darkest part of the woods
while they go for
a nail appointment. Pedicures and Wolves
play important parts in this version.
are never any fairy tales
about cleaning snot off of your sleeve
or changing diapers three times in one morning.
Or about those deep hugs
and the smell of the crook in the back hollow of
their little necks. Sweet
fairy tales would tell you
is the most vulnerable spot--
a good place to whack with your axe and rid yourself of
the new husband's old baggage
to send to the good mother buried
behind the old well. Her embrace is eternal.
who would read those good mom stories? Who would
pull up an old afghan cup of cocoa fireplace filled with snapping
you want to go down in history, you must first
beat your children soundly. Lick blood from your fingers.
Smile with pointy teeth
on the way to meet your lovers.
wonder aloud what I do when you are gone.
As though I dont know how to live without you.
Six months back to myself.
days I burn. There is no end to my heat
as I walk and walk and walk.
My hands are never empty
but everything seems so cold.
always think of their mothers as virgins
born, immaculate, to wipe noses and comb hair.
Never anything but grief if alone.
White arms. Your white arms ringed in soft hair.
You picked red flowers with black seeds.
We wove them
daughter, who is my self.
How your hair curled, sweaty, on your forehead
as you slept. Your lips parted,
your legs tucked under.
My chest filled with the need to keep your innocence
went to an oracle once to find, as young women will,
your future. I could have told you,
your future will always find you first.
I, too, remember long nights of balmy air
salt on our skin, kissing, kissing.
Young men with eyes wide, knowing their own desire.
seeds can be
bitter, depending on
their ripeness. They burst on the tongue and then
you know which
They stain your fingertips with their juice.
upon a time I knew the way there
into the land of words like bees
and impossibly virginal pink
in November! Imagine
is warm. The water tips
moist. There are teal
cobalt chocolate moments
and music like fairies. and acorns
crunch beneath our feet.
I cannot imagine
am forced awake
away. I'm sleeping late.
I whine. But poetry
pokes me with long cold fingers.
"remember that cute
cowboy in the beat-
blue pickup truck
wearing a tan
straw hat (of all things)?
and your 2o minute crush ?
The one you never even
got a good look at?
Visions of cool white cotton sheets
in the morning, wrinkled by bodies,
sun on an unfamiliar sleeping face,
(like that Brittney commercial, only not so cheesy)
Putting the same song on "repeat"?
So you could hear Lucinda singing country torch
songs on the radio
over and over?
You applying redred lipstick?
And standing in the wind with a blue cotton
sundress? ("Yeah, to pump gas," I whisper,
but poetry just laughs at me).
And then the cowboy was gone?"
roll over. Tuck my hands under my
wrinkled pillow. "No. Go away."
laughs. "Get up. Write
There was this small town:
shrimp boats, rotting at the docks. Churches, empty during the
Worn down, needing paint (but full every day)
trucker bars. Speeding truckers with pockets full of black mollies.
Communion of sinners, my body, given for you.
not much else.
was small then, too. It was a long time ago.
day, riding the school bus, we passed a cemetery where
there had been a wreck. The car,
drably green, American, bulky gas guzzler,
on its last legs, brakes gone
into several graves. Was still there.
mausoleums surrendered to a greater force than inertia. Stone
and old desecrated clothing lay strewn across the winter dead
people. Driver long gone.
But the car, left empty, yawning:
no trump sounded to mark its souls holy passage. Simply
bus smelled of adolescence and paste drying on paper. Homework
stained our fingers with black ink.
We children craned our necks. Let down square
windows with a clunk.
Looked for something ghastly.
We laughed, screamed, delighted.
Spied a glint of
what turned out to be
just a hubcap.
we sought out evidence of that long sleep, safe
within the yellow-green fullness of our own youth.
looked for secrets behind closed doors,
the fullness of the hidden,
the tabooed, unthinkable: like heavy breathing in the
middle of the night. Our parents, in their own lives, and us
Wishing for anywhere but here.
next day, the car was gone. Rescued. Yellow police tape
surrounded the scene.
We shrieked at a bee caught on the bus,
frantic in her attempts to escape back into the pollen laden
went back to verbs and multiplication tables.
Four times four is sixteen.
into cold water
edge very close
closes over your head
as you keep your eyes open
and reach up
a moment, you are
then there is a splash
of your father as he bellyflops
to your rescue.
is not heroism
It is not news
It is only a moment
In a day
In a life.
I will always remember
how tightly you held on,
edge may be close,
but sometimes, we miss it anyway.
are these stories
that they tell:
the sting and hum of the wild blood,
heart in freefall
the moment it pauses its tramp, its drums, as you
fall. Fear of the next second, what will be undone and done.
What cannot be undone.
fear. Those tears.
These stories I try to unlearn.
laugh, and sing
Ring around the rosy
and joy makes last word a shout.
pray for large pockets,
and no cut flowers.
And throw small blue stones
at large birds who row their feathers home.
(I think they are birds) They sing.
blue will keep them away.
flowers bloom on your fair dollskin. You fall, again.
I am afraid of wax. How it gives.
You, jumping, and me,
trying, against those stories,
the awful weight of them,
to catch you this time.