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What good is it to erect
when we've vents
that expel heat
When I teach my daughter
and build a woman
out of me
that is not her mother
but some propriety.
A treason of simple
subjects, I never had use
in Spanish for the word
"woke up and a horse
was staring at me." (Joe Brainard)
cooled, this diction dumb
tongue. But what
is a mother's warmth
if not her wit?
Bernadette "turns to me
in the shower" and says
motherhood is now
the girl poets. If so, I want
my hat, a feather in it.
Mallarmé's, in fact.
Mise en garde
Danger the bird will by-pass her cot
Danger of seeming nonchalant
Danger in knowing the spill of consumption
Danger in blood and its familiar trenches
Danger in anger and dangle and gerund,
gender and candy
and absent grandparents
Danger we'll forget to tower the princess
Danger in hair that grows its assistance
Danger we'll parent with cultish fervor
Danger in Sears or Spock or Ferber
Danger in despots and kindly old ladies
Dangers that thrive in arid climates
Danger our daughter will never learn bus routes
Danger of the curb and the cars and the costumes
Danger her speech foreign to our own
Danger we'll mirror each other in tone
Danger of insistence spelled kin and existence
Danger my mother will shred the board's minutes
(No one will know I was once one of them)
Danger of lobes puritan and savage
Danger we'll become like all the others
Danger the beautiful names of poisons:
Aromatics, aromatics, all around us
Danger she'll be crushed by our identity theories
Danger it keeps us from watching a movie
Dangers at borders, in bars, and on boats
Danger in Idol & Survivor & Lost
Danger she'll beg us for the newest iPhone
("But, mama, it's so boring on the moon!")
Danger in the endless Internet search:
Hot dogs=carcinogens=slow painful death.
Three times on Saturday
I remember you
I reach under
the nipple dry,
surprised to forget
left of you
an orange I section
in the sun
and hand to my
The fight this morning
to part evenly
again on the nipple
as I make
through a colander.
Bedtime is classic
to her beloved:
"I like your beauty, beauty."
Rosa Alcalá is the author of two books of poetry, Undocumentaries and The Lust of Unsentimental Waters, both from Shearsman Books. Spit Temple: The Selected Performances of Cecilia Vicuña, edited and translated by Alcalá, was runner-up for the 2013 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. She is also the recipient of a 2015 NEA Fellowship in Translation.
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