He thinks he knows what hungry is. He thinks he knows
how to decieve. He thinks himself a student
of color and shape, a student of the seasons —
he knows the water’s still too cold for Mayflies
to be hatching yet. He knows how to be careful,
that his line can cast a shadow should the sun break
through the clouds and that a single suspect shadow
will trip silent alarms. He knows
that we are careful, too. There is no bravado
in survivors’ genes. He thinks that he is patient,
that the wait for that one moment
of transubstantiation — his hand, this art,
his false gift swallowed whole — he will always
proudly endure. He thinks he knows what hungry is.
The spotlight sun sliced by Venetian blinds
imitates itself on every mirrored wall.
Long necks boast elegant faces, fair like magnolias.
They glance with graceful nonchalance at me, then back,
with unvocalized but audible snickers
whose volume grand jetes above the Schubert that plays.
One long braid tied with an unsure bow
of borrowed white satin, my black leotard, pink tights—
once opaque but suddenly transparent—
brandish the wrong tag, the wrong size,
my body, bruised knees, fine summer-blonde hairs, now coarse
I follow tempered steps, swallow staccato breaths
while the girls adage like elegant scissors
across the polished floor of Madame Helia’s.
Parental Task #2: Cleaning up after a mess
Newborn babies sh*t crude oil. Literally,
Deepwater Horizon is spewing
into the diaperless Gulf each day
60,000 barrels of the stuff
I wipe from my baby's a** five times every day:
1. Stabilize the explosion with jingling keys.
2. Disengage the adhesive tabs.
3. Peel back my pampered boy's oozing shell.
4. Reach for moist cloths to clean up the mess.
5. Skim black sludge from his butt, his thigh, our coral couch.
6. Apply a new harness and fasten.
No, no. Flick your wrist to open the fresh diaper
while minding the squirming well with the other hand,
a trick perfected through each successive crisis.