Noun: a child's bed
Verb: to steal
When my father was born, they brought him
to me, still wet, stub of cord still glowing.
They say a father’s eyes don’t work at first,
but his were wide, he stared at me
a long time, before passing out on my chest.
I know he knew me. My mother
didn’t want to come out. As I labored she
turned suddenly, squared her shoulders.
I thought they might open me, got ready
for it, but she turned again
and came like a dream. That is, she came
already come, wearing a veil,
a caul. She cried when I peeled it away,
which made me cry. So they let us be alone
for a while and didn’t cut the cord. They
said there was no hurry.
This poem originally appeared in Prairie Schooner, 2018
Tell me the one about the skeleton
and the stewardess again. I forget
how it ends. I know the plane goes
down over Yellowstone, but doesn’t
the skeleton get the last word? Isn’t
the punch line something about how
hard it is to find parking now that
all the cars are smart, how America
always has a head cold, how no one
truly wants a kitten? I remember
laughing really hard the first time
you told me. You’d think that’d be
enough to make a memory, but
somehow it wasn’t. I only seem to
hang on to sad things now. That’s
why I’ve been walking around all
day thinking about the stewardess.
Her father died that morning. There
was no time to get her shift covered
so, she got on the plane in a blur of
guilt and recrimination. When she
saw the skeleton sitting in First Class
she hardly reacted. It made sense,
I mean, of course she’d eventually
get a dead passenger. Death is
everywhere. Life is the intrusion,
the stowaway, the joke. The skeleton
asked for water, its voice soft as the
turn of a page. Then the windows
were full of trees and flame.
This poem originally appeared in Ethel, 2018
When You Can Get It
A woman went to the perfume counter and asked,
What scent says, I think it rained last night? The clerk
turned to her cabinet, put her hands on her hips, then
offered a small blue bottle. The woman put a drop
on her wrist. It smelled of jasmine and wood smoke.
There was also iron and something like mint, only
colder. No, she said, I mean I think it rained but I’m not
sure. The clerk consulted her bottles again, opened
a drawer by her feet. Finally, she went to a coat hung
on the back of a chair and dug in the pockets. She
withdrew something tiny and held it out. It was a grey
bird, wet and alive. Its throat flashed purple and green
as it panted. This is the last of it, she said.
This poem originally appeared in Moria, 2018