Sunday, June 07, 2020

the only story she knows


On my first day off in weeks
I stand with my son
watching a spider who has spun
a web in the bamboo
a floating silver blanket
that has snared a ladybug.

The spider pedals his back legs
a busy typist or a mother preparing dinner.
The ladybug yields,
all squirming undercarriage
her red jewel of a shell
consumed by white thread.

I wonder if I should intervene
and what the metaphor might be.
This is the week protesters stood up
in the name of Black bodies
and our president wielded the military
in the name of the bible.

I sat home, a typist, tangled
scared and tired.


Dee Dee Blanchard named her daughter
Gypsy Rose, and that's half
of what you need to know. Smile, baby,
she told her child after ordering
a dentist to pull out her teeth.
I let them entertain me.

She pushed her in a wheelchair,
a pink blanket over her strong legs.
Gypsy stood up in the night
took off her oxygen mask
ate frosting by the light of the fridge
looked up "kissing" on the internet.

After ordering her boyfriend
to stab her mother while she slept,
Gypsy Rose tried a few more medical scams
for old times' sake. Just tell the truth,
I coach her from the sidelines
but sick child is the only story she knows.

The web is frayed;
she dangles like a tooth.


On my first day off in weeks
I make a list--write, hike--
but exhaustion snares me
and when I'm not putting toys
back on shelves or scrubbing a pan
my heart races.

My body has come to believe
this story in a few short months:
This is what you were made for,
housework, email, telling children NO.
How quickly I learned, how tiring
the work of unlearning.

I cover my nose and mouth
and walk away from my house
past buildings webbed in plywood
a spray-paint declaration that this business
is Black-owned, which may be a lie.
This neighborhood, once Brown, is paling every day.

My mask fogs up my glasses
as the fog of the everyday lifts, and lingers.

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