Why can’t every day be pancake morning? Last night
Mom made treaty with the monster under my bed.
Front yard pine needles nest in my hair because I won’t
give up on keeping tally of fireflies. Mouse pops out of
the toaster, magic streaks across the counter as I grab two
squares of butter cake and stuff them into my backpack.
Pink Schwinn, my mustang that I like to ride at odd angles
through the neighborhood or park at the mouth of a path
to hike down to harvest echoes at the toes of waterfall.
Today brims with girl knowledge—my pocket knife,
willow whistle, a tattered library book about Annie Oakley
who seems to be west of everything except this creekside.
Her episodes spider down. She’s that handprint in the bark,
a birthday action figure with a string that pulls on legacy.
I want to braid her an ivy crown, aim her .22 caliber to the sky,
sip from her loving cups. Through breeze, Sitting Bull whispers
his Lakota name for her, Little Sure Shot with both eyes open.
Some day I’m going to get me a fancy pair of cowboy boots
but in the meantime I’ve got to get home. Late for casserole,
pine needles still jagging my hair, and something else I won’t
give up on, the palindrome of my mother’s chest scars,
targets where her breasts used to be.
after Heat Wave by Nadir Nelson
and Young Woman At a Window by Salvador Dali
Forearms of these two young women anchor
each onto their window sills of launchpad.
Rainbow cool of what can be licked from a stick.
Chaste harmony in drapery folding with a back’s melody.
Cheekbones and cleavage glisten in the heat,
goddess chin erect in the sidewise glory of heiroglyph.
Relaxed shoulders, tilting hip, ankle coyly pressed
against its other, a face the ocean’s possession.
These daughters own their gazes, challenge yours,
their futures there for their taking.
This first story, this chin of fire, Sun and its daughters, primordial mirror.
The aproned goddess returns, fondles the crosspoints where warp and weft conjoin,
reclaims shards of ocean turquoise, phoenix flames.
Ocher medallion looms large, epitaph for each master who crushed then transformed
mineral, insect, shellfish.
These threads bear the needle’s prayer fired through the eyes of every woman’s weaving.
Quilt, poised and illuminated,
in the politics of textile.
Especially when I go like this
with my tail, and weave
through chilled murmurs
of deep to call you, you
marvel at my kind.
My tongue, primordial red,
my long long rainbow hair,
all invisible in inky darkness
where color and imagination abides.
I don’t think about
being charming even with
what you call my marble eyes,
translucent refugees from
ancient calculating machines
wedged into underwater caverns
of my shipwreck bounty.
Islands are the middles of my stories.
Moon opens its mouth.
Ocean is sound.
All necessary things.
Miss McGlaughlin and the Road to Marvel
The octopus houses three hearts as we
placed our fifth grade palms over ours.
After I pledge allegiance to the flag:
Travelers, how will we seize today?
Order in the cloak room, our cubbies
obedient altars to rain boots, parkas,
mittens with clips—manifold of parental
coddling, but Miss McGlaughlin pointed
our way to trumpeting joy of elephants
& pomegranate hearts full of jewels.
The desk globe, her orb of dazzle, &
a punch bowl brimming with postcards
each carrying a story from three decades
of adventure. Cardinal—her winter courier
at the raised window, & on the turtle’s back
secret messages if we squinted long
enough. Our months studying art &
mythology but really how to be a deep
sea diver—what do Van Gogh’s brushstrokes
whisper, what does the invention of muses
show us about the Ancients? Class trips
to her farm of peacocks, llamas & renegade
sunflower fields, tails of back road dust
dancing behind our marigold bus.
Ida McGlauglin, know your frog eyes,
bobblehead, & cartoon dresses still
belong to a gangly girl you taught
to freight with windows wide open.