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Manoa 13.2 (2001) 33-34
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Mother & father I once had had a child once:
she escaped in the fire. They set water
boiling momentarily, tumultuous
rolling boil, beware the pot
watched them, thought everything over,
thought harder, mind, mind.
So the mother picked up &
twiddled the phone, taught it to chat, while the father
steamed open his shaving mirror, & all of a sudden neither
one ever got back
to the pot, the kettle, the hot bottom of things,
& the child's
room ruffled up over the furious
kitchen stove & burned her off like a rocket crisp.
Here's how the damp black wood out back there
drudges to this day: every night it moonshines for the little girl.
Cool coals shimmer, snuff; the joists
slip & dimensions lapse to dismantle
according to the crows' step-
by-step procedure: yawk,
what ceiling? Dew,
& berry exchange.
Goodbye, then, foolish family! Who
will I love next?
Until we got so interrupted, I never
suspected anyone. [End Page 33]
Hook what you've got of skin & bones in a cut
of yellow fat at the spring pin, & spread both
opposite horizons--jaggedy jaws
firmly down wideopen while an enlarging breeze
distends the stink, & before gloaming darkens
alert Death's nostril has caught it; in blueblack
Death hides its hunch, from every trunk it
snouts out & sidles behind each neighboring
mound & pittipats spotty around the stars,
Death's gone so famished without you yet!
Death's sobbed aloud on its insipid heap for only your
unique salt tang that its glut lacks,
your condiment, your zest, whet of its oo yes! last
best appetite. Squat there the night in your own long-
simmering hair, until, just behind wristbeat, when Death
nips, just as you slip your tongue aside
Death's tongue & the trap kicks, shake off your
poor damp paw, negligible, & quit Death gnashing as it
no doubt still will, & hurry, hero! plunge with me
downhill into the clutches of the buttercups, just let
miserable Death yell.
Martha Zweig recently published her first full-length collection, Vinegar Bone; she is also the author of a chapbook, Powers. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Journal, Northwest Review, Gettysburg Review, and other magazines. She lives in Vermont.