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.

Two Windows

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,

another resurrection

in the politics of textile.

Mermaid Envy

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.

Sun squints. 

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.