I’m not myself today.
Hell, they kicked me right out of the Bible.
No one wanted to hear how I made
a killer chocolate fondue and used to
handcuff Adam to the bed. He braided my hair
while I got my nipples pierced. I painted
his toenails as a sun was tattooed
on his back. He’s shy of that now, won’t show
anyone, but I know all about it. Oh, he won’t
tell you how we stayed up late talking, spiking
each other’s hair. How we popped corn
and threw it at the moon — and all those nights,
crows upon crows at our feet. He likes to forget
we used to make up songs together, flinging
lines at each other, splashing in the claw-foot tub.
We planted a garden that bloomed
unlikely things — the artichoke mingling
with the birds, the snap peas tangling threads
to spell out wishes. The weed I pulled and pulled
that wouldn’t give until I dug, found its claws
wrapped around a stone. Together we picked
tomatoes, green and young, watched them
turn somersaults in our wicker basket. Dreadlocked
carrots, weeping leeks, the pumpkin spreading
wider than our house! And how we cooked and cooked,
turned spices in butter, tamed vegetables, licked
the spoons, ate off each other’s plates. And always
the scent of lilacs, cherry blossoms, coaxing us
into the blue of night, the perfect relief of stars.
We’d walk the dogs down the road
to the abandoned silo, make love in the grain
until the sun slipped through the roof. Or
lie naked in the forgotten treehouse, listening
to acorns falling from the sky. It was all about
how much we wanted to slip inside each other,
find our way up and down our bodies’ bones.
Until I found the missing rib.
I noticed it gone, then saw he’d planted it
in the garden. She grew taller than the rhubarb,
taller than me. I put my hands on my hips
and hollered: Take her, but leave me
the dogs, leave me the garden.
You’ll never find this again.
But someday she’ll come walking, she’ll see
this garden and reach for something here.
I’ll watch her from the kitchen window.
I’ll let her take whatever she likes.
And when she does, you’ll crumble.
You’ll turn on your heels
Copyright 2001. All rights reserved.
Sancho, are those giants? Giant women resting like lighthouses except for their arms rising and falling, rising and falling like they are calling out to someone? Why they are giants! Here, hold this helmet a moment. It is golden like a goose egg, and tough as a beanstalk, and I won’t need it anymore. That one there is a kind of cyclops. See how my finger points to her one eye? Sancho, sprinkle bread crumbs to find your way back. Here, hold my boots and my armor. They are worn like harp strings, though not so sweet, and I won’t need them anymore. Sancho, there is grain in her eye, see? And grain between her toes and grain pouring from her mouth like spring while her arms whup-whup above her like hummingbirds. Sancho, I will not become lost in the forest. See, there is a sugared house just beyond all this whup-whupping of wings. It is lit like a cake. Here, hold my shirt and my underwear. They are soiled, true, but they are soft as goose down and as precious as beans, and I won’t need them anymore. And I won’t need these hands, they can scamper like mice through the grain. I won’t need these kneecaps, they can crawl away like turtles. I won’t need these ears, they can leave me like butterflies. I won’t need this skin, it can fall back like a shadow. No, don’t follow me, Sancho. Cut the stalk now. I will visit Mother Gingerbread’s house. She is seasoned like Demeter, she will fill me with grain. I will spin in her arms like a spit. Don’t cry, Sancho. Don’t cry. Here, take my pieces away, try them on like wings. Here is my soul, Mother Gingerbread. I am here for your feasting. Warm up the oven. Cook me whole.
from Skins: A Collection of Poems Exploring Animal Transformation in Fairy Tales, Folklore, and Mythology
Copyright 1994. All rights reserved.