‘Murder is to mitosis is to mercy. / We are mostly legs too: part tendon, part pardon, kicking / or curling.’
No Need for the Moon to Shine in It
This life in fits and starts: a spider walks across
the circumference of my room with just one leg.
How easy we can adapt if given one good thing:
one good leg, one good kettle, one good patch
of grass. In summer, I split the stems of a bouquet
to resemble legs kicking in a lake, muddy all May.
In winter, we simply can’t have what we want.
I watch a fish freeze mid-flight in a waterfall. Its eye:
a glassy rock I want to skip into a pot
of soup to revive. February is fitting: my grandmother
yawns or shouts into her hands: salt-white snow.
A cloak of bees covet a fluorescent bulb, sunning
their wings. I stretch my legs across a rooftop. I am a line
of laundry drying, drawn in and folded in
haste. My mother cuts small Xs into tomato skins.
The tomatoes splinter in boiling water. My roiling heart:
pulped. If I told you I felt safe all the time, I would
be lying. If I told you I lied, I would also be lying.
A blush sweeps across my face like the sun in a smoke –
filled sky. False: trees are being set on fire. False:
I used a broom to stir the bees up. True: the bees rained
down, singing dirges in every mouth in every crown
in every sugar-rotten cavity.
Under a full moaning moon, I changed into a better
self: over-empathetic. I saved every deer
tangled in every fence. I took hooves to the face.
I won awards and gave awards away to terrible people so
they can feel something. I adapted well
to dry climates. My leg hairs sprouted like cacti.
How honorable, my eyes impervious to tears, fire,
tectonic shifts of the self. Look: I high-fived everyone
like a good citizen. I pinned every flag to every bone.
I burned garbage to light the way for a family
of raccoons, crossing starless street after starless street.
Tell me: what kind of habits should I adopt?
My braid dips into the juices of a steak.
At 72, my grandmother’s hair is so tangled we have to
shave her head. She is a little boy in a coat, three shades
too red. My grandmother says: there are so many ways
to be invisible. Salt-white snow.
My heart softens: noodles in a pot.
A helicopter flying low can’t mean good news, no.
A weak cosmic ray transmits a message: give me all
your soft tissue, all your resilience. Go on: denude thyself.
Some cells split despite death. When they opened
up the farmer, they found a grass clot in his lungs.
I come from a farming family. Which is to say,
I have killed plenty of things: spiders, ants, crabs –
leg by leg. Murder is to mitosis is to mercy.
We are mostly legs too: part tendon, part pardon, kicking
or curling. My hair curls after falling into the ocean,
transverse wave of the face. June never wavers:
I lick my arm for a pinch of salt. I pitch a fit and alternate
liking you. Kiss me like this: all likelihood gambled:
how a dog barks to match the bark of another.
Sorry does not mean anything. Sore, though,
feels everything: my mother’s arm feeding envelopes
into a machine, little workhorse of the heart and hoof.
So, lean against me. I want to say: take my
right hand, my right wrist – it braces against
sorrow. I could row us away. My good arm, my good
daughter. How easy we can adapt if given
something. Yesterday, I spent hours shucking corn,
the hairs of husks across my legs, gathering.
If you shucked loneliness,what will you find?
All the animals that have committed to dirt have it all
figured out. A colony of ants is based on attachment:
everyone a bridge, everyone a lean-to.
When I wake, I flail and startle starlings. They topple
over, dropping insects out of their mouths. This life:
shock, loss, shock. Would you turn away? No need
for the moon to shine here. No need for stop signs,
cold soups, laboratory goggles. Let your prized insects drop
from your mouth. Let the virus hover over you,
knitting sickness like a thick winter scarf my mother wraps
around the both of us. Reroute upon command.
Wash a plate like a fly washes its face. Eat an oyster without
opening it. Clean your good, bloody teeth. Begin,
my mother, the conductor, says: begin, begin again.