Had I been raised by doves wouldn’t I have learned to fly By wolves to hunt in packs Had I been raised by gods wouldn’t I too be godlike In the movies the orphan is the killer not loved enough unwanted But wasn’t I most wanted My mother fish goddess dove into the sea for the sin of loving a mortal man I love a mortal man too At night I coax him from sleep rousing him with my mouth By day we build high brick walls around us our Babylon Had my mother lived to see me rise from this boundless deep would she recognize me as I have grown large and my arms have become the long arms of the sea reaching over and over for the shore
Copyright © 2018 by Mary-Kim Arnold. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 12, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Who means what it is to be human
and is scarred by childhood.
Thick and neckless. Your head shaped
like a gravestone.
A smile opens across the knuckle and disappears
every time you lift a tumbler of scotch.
Who holds a pen and lies.
Who holds a chopstick
in the language of still-twitching fish.
When you think of the past you form a fist
until a heart beats.
Once removed by a chisel. Then reattached.
You stiffen in the rain and dream
of pudding—a smooth, boneless lake.
Who butters morning toast
while wearing a butter hat.
Who fingers the ad for beef, grows numb
while talking to a girl on the phone.
Useless while typing. Useless
tool who only worships space.
A stump. A blackened stamp.
Your own private map of loneliness.
Who always leans to one side. Detached.
Distant from all others.
Copyright © 2017 by Hadara Bar-Nadav. “Thumb” was published in The New Nudity (Saturnalia Books, 2017). Used with permission of the author.