A girlfriend found one in her breast
while still in college. One day
a woman read her palm and tarot cards,
pressed a hand against her chest,
another to her back, applied white light
and made it disappear. One night
my fingers touch my skin to prove
I am still here, and here, and here –
to forgive a body less than loved or trusted.
I find I cannot keep my hand away, slip my fingers
between lace and blouse, seeking proof
of what I own. I want to take hands
and press them close, say:
here is truth of what I’ve been.
I want to feel white light, the warm remedy
of touch against the poison of my skin.
Instead the surgeon snips me open,
allows the wound to spill like sugar
from a packet, instead the surgeon tells me
that my scars will heal, rubs his hands together
like a cartoon villain on the verge of stealing,
says: I want to warm my hands before
I touch you, and smiles, assuming humor,
pressing palm against my chest.
I want to hold him there, the weight
compressing tape and flesh, say:
I’ve given you nothing. Say:
I only let you take
what I no longer wanted.
Tell Derwood to fuck off. Leave him
to his billboards, let him write
the words. Let the stove overflow
with smoke and lift your broomstick
from the floor, put it back
where it belongs (where he does not
belong) and fly away again
with Mother. Let the warlocks do
the dirty work. Let them take care
of their feebler selves. Kick off
your sharp toed patent leather pumps
and teach Tabitha to turn red-headed boys
into toads. Teach her to conjure swamps
and leave the toads in. He hates
what makes you woman, not witch,
the breasts you funnel into cups,
the blonded spell of your sex, your super-
nature, all your gendered tricks.
He didn’t see the blood
when you gave birth, just chewed
the wet cigar. He knew you could create
a thousand devils in a day
without the need for pain. You mop
the ground he walks on, cook & serve
his courage, wash & dry his success, but this –
is just a phase. They’ll dim the stage
before his time to age, before
the contrast shows: your husband in a rocker
with a blanket across his lap. A woman
should not live to see her husband die
but you will. Then it’s out
of Technicolor houses, off to Africa
with Doctor Bombay to heal the sick
and starved. Shake your hair
in Paris fountains. Take your shirt off
on the beach. Make love with life
and strangers. One day
you’ll forgive them. One day
you’ll come back
and reclaim the moon.
The prompt at We Write Poems this week was to create some fabulous version of yourself, then project that fabulous alter-ego into a familiar situation, such as that from a TV sitcom. I chose to be the saucy sister of Samantha from Bewitched – Sabrina. But she’s even saucier when she’s me (And in my version, witches are immortal, cause I want them to be).
My brother had a fish that would leap out of its tank. He’d come home each day and check
behind glass, search and crawl on hands and knees, fingers cast into seas of blue shag.
We found a piece of screen to cover water and prevent escape, but the fish would batter
his silver body against its mesh like hard rain until it slipped enough for him to fit.
(One day my mother found him with her foot, half-dead again and flopping, the wire screen
nudged over, the tank still bubbling with colored rocks and plastic sea-divers, and she said: enough already. Left him there, didn’t pick him up until he was still.)
I kinda told the truth in this poem, and I kinda followed We Write Poems‘ Wednesday prompt requiring parentheticals. My brother did have a fish named Sharkie that used to leap out of its tank on a regular basis, and Sharkie did occasionally get stepped on. My mother, however, never tired of putting Sharkie back in his tank, and while I’m not sure how he died, I’m fairly certain it was not from one of his out-of-tank experiences. On, and the prompt required three lines, with a fourth line in parenthesis.