When Your Mother Asks If You’re Seeing Anyone And No Longer Means A Therapist
It’s tough to find a cardiologist who dates
patients from the Ward of Cracked Hearts, but
there’s always the bariatric surgeon
who thinks you could drop a few pounds. If it’s too late
for the death row inmate, try the child predator, you too
could date the would-be senator, or even the President of the United States.
If you can’t have the priest, don’t give up.
You too could fall for the charismatic cult leader. You too
could try the celibate polygamist. Admittedly,
you’d have to share, and you wouldn’t know for sure
if you’re actually dating, or whether you’d ever “consummate,”
but who’s in it for that kind of thing anyway, unless,
of course, you’d finally give me a grandchild.
You didn’t spend years in braces only to settle
for a dental assistant, did you?
We didn’t correct your overbite just so you could eat
your dinners alone. It took sacrifice to cultivate your eligibility, years
of home perms and hand-me-downs, decades of clearance rack cosmetics.
And yet the people you called friends were privileged
enough to discover your brain and not your body. BTW, did
you see that profile pic of the head floating in a jar?
Though I’m not sure if it’s really enough to love.
But love you will as everyone does
toward infinite grace, the axe
into the olive branch, verisimilitude
to abstraction, even the sarcophagus toward mummy dust,
the intellect to its dementia. And I will support you as the mantle
above the fireplace supports the little box, house
to your spouse’s ashes.
Eden: An Outline
Litany While Reading Scripture in the Gynecologic Oncology Waiting Room
And God said, let there be blood
And God said, flood
And God said, good
is a woman with fruit
in her womb and not
in her hand
And God said, sin
And God did not say, forgive
And God said, I will make a stormy wind
And God said, son, a breath
And God said, highly favored
And God said, condemned
And God said, I will blot out man
whom I have created, for I am sorry
that I have made them
And God said, listen
And sunk a boy
in her like a stone
In 1983, illusionist David Copperfield
made the Statue of Liberty disappear.
He placed a curtain in front of the monument
and when he pulled it down the 3,000-foot
statue was no longer there.
I think about how this magic trick
has become too familiar. Liberty
just vanishing without any explanations.
What the Woman Said
I don’t want to offend anybody but I never did like
fucking all that much. Like I always say
the saw enjoys the wood more than the wood enjoys
the saw—know what I mean?
I used to think
I could be like the girl in the movies—
then I watched myself—when it was happening—
my eyes closed, my head tilted back as if I were
him seeing me—and I couldn’t feel anything.
I was watching me, and I was someone else who
looked like she was having a good time. Seems like
I spent years like that, watching him (whoever he was)
watching me—I have to admit
it was easier when he left. I’d watch myself watch him
leave and hear the strain of music swell up like a story.
watch myself walk back into the house and close the door
and lean against it.
I want to tell you everything I know about being alive but I
missed a lot of living that way—
My life was a story, dry as pages. Seems like he should have known
enough to lick them even lightly with his thumb
But he didn’t. And I have to admit I didn’t much like the idea
of telling him how.
On certain days I am not in love
and my heart turns over
crowding the lungs for
driving blood in and out of
the skull improving my mind
working muscles to the bone
dashing resonance out of a roaring sea
at my nerve endings
Not much is needed
a noisy taking in and a
loud giving back
Then my heart like any properly turned
motor takes off in sparks dragging all that machinery
through the blazing day
which our lord knows
Wishes for Sons
–Lucille Cliftoni wish them cramps.i wish them a strange townand the last tampon.i wish them no 7-11.i wish them one week earlyand wearing a white skirt.i wish them one week late.later i wish them hot flashesand clots like youwouldn’t believe. let theflashes come when theymeet someone special.let the clots comewhen they want to.let them think they have acceptedarrogance in the universe,then bring them to gynecologistsnot unlike themselves.
On the Train, A Man Snatches My Book
On the train, a man snatches my book, reads
the last line, and says I completely get you,
you’re not that complex. He could be right–lately
all my what ifs are about breath: what if
a glass-blower inhales at the wrong
moment? What if I’m drifting on a sailboat
and the wind stops? If he’d ask me how I’m
feeling, I’d give him the long version–I feel
as if I’m on the moon listening to the air hiss
out of my spacesuit, and I can’t find the rip. I’m
the vice president of panic and the president is
missing. Most nights, I calm myself by listing
animals still on the least concern end of the
extinction spectrum: aardvarks and blackbirds
are fine. Minnows thrive–though this brings
me no relief–they can swim through sludge
if they have to. I don’t think I’ve ever written
the word doom, but nothing else fits.
Every experience seems both urgent and
unnatural–like right now, this train
is approaching the station where my lover
is waiting to take me to the orchard so we can
pay for the memory of having once, at dusk,
plucked real apples from real trees.