Letter From An Unborn Daughter
Letter from an unborn daughter, to the man in the Osaka airport who says to
his friends, “The Good Lord didn’t give me any daughters, or else I’d have
killed someone by now. Now, you, Tom, you have a beautiful daughter – me,
I’d have shot someone by now for sure.”
Southern girls are so easy to guess, ain’t they?
Always daddy’s daughter, always sorority queen
Always rather stupid than fat, always better thin
than anything. We always carry the fried chicken
from the kitchen to this table, and we always clutch our purses
while we put on our lipstick, unless we ask you first,
honey, can you hold this a second?
It’s what makes us so indestructible: our eternity.
Yet, at the same time we’re so protectable!
We all got lace needs a shield from the wine,
we all got those aspirin between our knees
that keep rollin’ under the couch for no damn reason.
I can see your hand been stuck under that couch
for eighteen years lookin’ for a better reason
to cross the shotgun over our door
rather than sit down and have a conversation with me.
For Philip Seymour Hoffman
In Boogie Nights, you seduced everyone –
your spaghetti hair, your belly rising
from your shirt like the sun.
In The Big Lebowski, you were the ceramic comb
in the bedside drawer of a male librarian
with a bad sense of humor.
But for me, it was always Capote.
Your hands waltzed with each other.
You fell in love with yourself,
fell in love the part of you that wanted
to be a man who wanted to be a woman.
When you kissed Harper Lee –
all her crossed arms, her endless jaw –
she almost let you bow.
She, the only person who’s ever really known
when to quit.
Watching you wear his clothes, I learned
beauty is erasing the articulation of the word
and waiting for what emerges.
Truman Capote grew up in the woods
with a madwoman at his heels.
He spent the rest of his life
putting her under different lights,
giving her different dresses to wear.
When he went to Kansas to write about that family
he found himself in the woods
with no women he could love,
only men who couldn’t love him back.
You were not a man who could not love him back. Continue reading
Alone at Night
Before I get out of the car, I assure you
I’m fine getting home by myself,
and that you should take the cab.
Later, the cabbie says to you, “Well, I guess
if it were my girlfriend, I’d have walked her home.”
He is the smartest cab driver either of us have ever had.
He knows the name of every street in Somerville
but he’s humble about it, acting like he doesn’t know
where the secrets are buried.
And he knows that it’s very nice to be a girlfriend
and to be walked home.
Meanwhile, I am your girlfriend
walking home alone at night,
and this is one of my favorite parts of being human.
The night used to be an edge
I could lay myself on and be comfortable.
In the absence of light’s echo, streetlamps open
like flowers and the sidewalk is one
long, flat leaf. This was my first garden.
As I get older, I know the night has points so sharp
it makes the air bleed, but the softness
of dark is unkillable.
Before I knew I was a woman,
I knew that the night is a bear
opening its mouth into the sky
while folding its arms and stomach around me.
This stillness is my first love
that I cannot lose.
But I also love you -
your shoulder, the shadows on your neck.
I love being next to you,
and I love being next to no one
because that’s how I learned love first:
in the belly of a bear
that swallowed me kindly,
opened my throat under the moon
to teach me beauty.
I move alone through this night
like the animal stalking
its prey through tall grass,
and the animal following its mate to the den.
I move alone through this night
like the way we fell in love:
hunted and safe.
The sky tells me where to find the secrets
under the sidewalk.
The sky asks if I will hide or run. Continue reading