From Opening the Mouth of the Dead
- A Note on the Text
- The Unanswered Note
- Horizontal Memories of Tea
- For Noticing I No Longer
- For Not Playing Dead
- The Oldest Lunchroom Lady
- The Order of Their Living
- For Not Permitting a Man’s Heart To Be Taken from Him
- The Day I Hit My Father
- Suicide Attempt IV:
A History of the South
- She Said Yes
For Not Permitting a Man’s Heart To Be Taken from Him
In a nightmare I find my father’s captain
At the kitchen table, hunched over,
Big slobbery bites in the middle
Of the night. His beard glows orange
Like the cereal. He stares
At the box, mesmerized by coupons.
Milk dribbles out the left of his mouth.
He does not invite me to sit down.
I twist the hem of my white nightgown harder
And do not speak. He knows the question.
“I left your father,” the nightmare says,
“Because he will not leave the bed
And I am hungry.” More crunch,
More slobber. Crumbs glitter his beard.
A spill of milk edges closer to my bare feet.
He smells like a fish wiggling off a hook.
“Why, little girl, do you run away in moon-lit pajamas?
Even the cool pavement does not wake you.”
The nightmare wipes his lips with the back
Of his hand, slaps his knee. Half of me
Leaps into his lap.
I want to snatch the cereal away.
But the one leg standing can only hop.
An eye watches the other.
You there in his body, I command to obey.
The sitting half climbs up the beard,
Peers into cave eyes. Asks: “Do your big arms
Keep him in bed all day?”