Meal


(for Annabelle)

So that each
is its own, now-each has fallen, blond stillness.
-Carl Phillips

I once accidentally fed my baby
daughter a sliver of green apple,
which stuck in her craw so that I
struck wild blows between her
shoulders and finished by turning
her upside down, shaking it out of
her as she hollowed, crisp and
greening.  She still loves apples but
will not go near the bananas I used
to mash for her daily with a spoon
of sugar, fascinated how the starch
turned to sweetness, believing this
must be good.  In twilight, I call the
white plate with the blue rim a
bone-china and picture it as some-
thing which might bleed.  I blame
myself that so often my daughter
believes that what she eats is
poison, convinced she is allergic to
cochineal, strawberry, the wheat
in the slice of bread, to milk which
appears so white and silent in
the heavy glass cup beside the plate
of bone.  O hunger, how I have gifted
her with the dark fur of your leaves,
the orchard who-knows-where to
which I would lead her if I could.
A palace of peaches it would be, each
one fuzzed and drenched with a
light—an eating  in which there
was no distinguishing joy from danger.

 

Little Grief

I feed you warm milk from a dropper.  All night
whinge and moan.

You make a lousy guest—shred the furniture
piss on the rug.

The neighbors gaze at you askance, but I can't
stop listening to you whistle, in and out,

like the conversation the river has with itself, as night
burbles on and on, song

that might almost be a silence—large as a gift, sparkly
as a tree in ice

(and why do I believe chill makes the world a glass?).

I resist believing in the accident of origin—the grain
in the shell around which a shimmering globe takes form,

but I can picture so clearly the mess of your birth,
the floor of straw, the slick around

a body. Why I clutch at you, my purse of pens,
my sack of ash.

Little Grief, little grief.  Who is ever cherished enough?


Drown

When the boy stoned me, the space of the girl
Who went under.

She chose the blue silent, the animals she
Would never have names for:

One-celled, tentacles with eyes on the end.
The deep sea giant octopus

Who blushes when strangers peer in.

Water has a density which is appealing to
Those who feel weightless.

The stone was a tear as the backdrop on a stage
Might be torn by a careless stagehand.

And the clouds are not clouds.
And the sky is only carelessly brushed blue pigment.

I ran out of the iron-work convent gates.
Past the chapel with its

Ruby-glass window.  The street people who caught
Me laughed.

It would take a PhD to adequately parse that
Sound.

I heard it as if they were standing on tiptoe,

Clutching their swollen and sore-infested and
Variously-ruined limbs and body-

Parts.  They were laughing because I was new
To this game.

It would be easy to say 'cruel laughter' but it
was not cruel.

They wanted me to know that I would need this skill.

This radical derangement.  They stood as if on tiptoes and
Pulled me all around

Pntil we were a whirl of bodies   back toward the gate.

Back inside, where they winked and waved.

Hooted and hollered, until they were the birds perched

on all the little trees in my mind,

calling:  Come up, come up.