Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Tuesday poem #18 : Pattie McCarthy : sonnets 28, 29, & 30

from x y z & &

whirling their skirts about until they stand

out flat— they play at mass & house & scourge

('not a safe game')        & knucklebones & rock

paper scissors  they play at trucks & farm.

when the three children play Harry Potter

the girl gets to be Harry                        that's brother-love.

hexenmilch      (milch pleez     she says) this body.

they play at school       they play at basehit      they

play wug test.   two months weaned she still turns her

body as if to nurse when sleepy          she

still jams her hand down my shirt        because nursing

wasn't physically intimate enough

            she'd hook a finger in my ear & pull

            my face down to hers                          girl can be a verb

the blue of larkspur     the blur of larkspur

like wet wool like a rain soaked wool kilt drying

slowly over the course of the day by

occupying desks near warm radiators

until sixth or seventh period     

                        (trigonometry? bio two?) a kind

of animal smell the damp hair

sticks to the back of her neck the fever

breaks & makes this snow smell like this smell not

unpleasant but not conventionally

pleasant like puppy breath it must have

                                    an evolutionary purpose

like I love your morning breath I'll take

care of you forever      hold her unutterable

I believe in neither superman nor

virgin birth but I believe in you, Elżbieta

Jabłońska.        & though I spent over

four of the last six years nursing someone,

there are no photos of me doing so     

            except this one awkward selfie when she

            was around eighteen months old & in it

            she's got the corner of her eye on the iphone.

maybe in some weird corner I do believe

in the virgin birth the way an older

kid believes in santa just to be safe.

alas, I could never be a good

Quaker.                        self-immolation is a big

                        girl word but everyone's wearing it.

XXVIII. 1 - 2. William Carlos Williams, "Children's Games" from Pictures from Brueghel.
XXIX. 1. T.S. Eliot, "Ash-Wednesday."
14. Rachel Blau DuPlessis, "Draft 2: SHE."
XXX. 13 - 14. Laura Spagnoli, "Letters to My Niece," My Dazzledent Days.

Pattie McCarthy is the author of four books from Apogee Press: Marybones, Table Alphabetical of Hard Words, Verso, and bk of (h)rs. Her chapbook L&O was recently published by Little Red Leaves, and she has a chapbook forthcoming from Bloof Books this year. A former Pew Fellow in the Arts, she teaches at Temple University and lives outside Philadelphia with her family.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

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