Seven sons was too many, and a girl could have helped smooth things. Ten years between the oldest and youngest. Ten years of hand-me-downs, rocks through windows, muddy sneakers and unsigned permission slips. After their father left, she kept the box around the house. With its crudely rendered front flap, it served as a reasonable disguise. She stapled straw hair to the top, and wrapped the middle with a torn blue dress.
When she dropped the box on their heads, her sons shrank down into feeble, trembling things. She longed for a daughter, who smelled sweet, like pineapples and cream.
She held out a heart like a cold beet,
skinned & pickled, with two tiny hands
at the end of stems which held a little heart also,
with tiny hands which held another
on and on
through the blunt scene
of hearts hurled blindly down halls, against
rising water, against nail-dotted walls
against computer screens, against chests
or slashed up,
against heaving, sweat-slick breasts…
we experienced a love that was new
there was at least that, if not the rest.
Thub-thub, the beet droned and its stammering-
it moved through us like hammering
as our animals lay down beside us, in gardens
or in grass- in a kind of memorial
we imagined their death
in terms of sacrifice & lest we forget
when we should have seen it coming,
seen them faltering & starving
neatly dropping at our feet while we ran on
not noticing their hearts were beat-
we had been running all this time without them.
Behind a sinking, healthy & back-lit sun
A sort-of-game played with your feelings
That is why you are this person.
One team wore white, like brides & napkins
Their lips shimmered dully
an aversion to thorns.
A second team is everything the first team could only hope to be
The team loves you, and their hearts match their red socks
and the way they held you
and still getting dust in your eyes
the sand kicked up to last, and last, and last…
You can’t imagine how they loved you into becoming this person.
Your split-lip self was a consolation prize
& You were not supposed to go down like that
& You are turning to face me in the library
And you do not show your face
it clings fast to your skull
your hand curling out of a cloak
into begging & being
the bloated fingers
of a man
our limbs are only softening around the joints and in the end, having to find not only one single place to be ourselves but to live out the life of a circus wicked torches and trapeze wires delicate and bracing, strong and self-referential a homesick tiger, pacing
spotlights dusting below the under-cup of your breasts it’s wetter on the dark side of the moon nothing grows and nothing glows but the potential leans out at us, for life from the cratered things which taste of borrowed light from other galaxies
the same tired words now exploded on our tongues.
Title borrowed from a story (collection) by the wonderful Miranda July, because it ‘belonged’. The rest is my own.