Friday, May 01, 2020

labor day

The kids are slipping
and sliding on an inflatable rainbow
our lawn turning to mud.
We have a lawn
and there must always be a pause
for that: our good fortune.

My boss has ideas,
and these too are luxuries
born in her former hunting lodge
in the folds of Laurel Canyon.
She watches mountain lions
on webcams stalk their prey.
She outlines her vision
and speaks of strategy.
I say I'll try.
Our most famous local lion
crossed two freeways
to get to Griffith Park
and so maybe she believes
in exceptionalism
as much as conservation.

The kids chant their demands
like labor activists
and I suppose that makes me management
delivering Jell-O in plastic bowls
shaky and blood red.

I was pregnant once
but never went into labor.
The years between that unbeating
ultrasound and eventual adoption
created a wild beast in me.
It crossed freeways. It looked back
at the rushing cars and saw
what might have happened.

Our son has formed a union
with the neighbor kids
whose parents are out of work.
The crunch of big-wheel tires
on concrete is the sound of summer.
My boss wants to know
why I am not on top of things.
But it is April, the weather
falsely warm, school falsely canceled.

Our tortoiseshell cat brings roaches
through the dog door at night
watches their antennae twitch
bats them with a curled paw.

Each day I make a list with two sections:
work and life. The kids rule the driveway
between our homes, the border
unenforceable but fraught.
The school opens
only to give out the free lunches
now stacked in orange plastic boxes
on the neighbors' kitchen table.

Pfizer donated medication
when our famous mountain lion turned
up pocked with mange. McDonald's
is donating $250 million
to Black communities
and health care workers.
What is a donation?
What is labor?

My son says, "Mommy, there's a cockroach"
and I tell him his other mom will get it.
Last night she cut his hair in the kitchen
and nicked his ear. She applied a band-aid
before he saw the blood.
If there had been a mirror
he would have screamed.

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