Born, I was born.
In sweat and tears I lay on a flowered blanket
before a chrome bucket of ice and a bladed fan.
My mind is clear as polished glass,
my hair a tangle of black moss.I fall down
on the grass in my harness, laughing.
Father is doing his skits and antics,
running and sliding, dropping his trousers.
His starched shirts are strict and ghostly,
they hang on a line over the bathtub.
Dying, Mother is dying, pale in her housecoat.
I am learning to run faster and faster,
I can feel the blood in my ears.
Great Aunt Nell is large as a boat with her
slick jersey dresses and embroidered handkerchiefs.
Flying, dust motes are flying, in a caduceus of light
between the studio couch and the radiator.
Family arrives on the train in the rain
carrying leather grips and hatboxes.
The self blooms,
a chrysalis of sorrow.
Patricia, the soft reticule of her mouth
pulls me from my dry cave.
I drink Father’s gin with Robert,
suck sweet smoke from a plug of blond hash.
The police are shoving into the crowd with tear gas and rifles,
we do a day in a cell with no window.
I eat rice from a red lacquer bowl,
green tea singes my tongue.
The riderless horse leads the procession.
Fever carries me out of my body.
Father: “Listen at this;
I have written it down.”
Mother: “This is the table they have laid before me.
I am not afraid.”
Copyright © 2017 Maggie Anderson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.