after the poet asked how I would bury my brother Beyond the carrots and blind white worms, beyond the yellowing bone orchards and corkscrew roots, beyond the center of this churchless earth, beloved Peter, my little sorcerer, brought up dirty & wrong, you deserve more than to be smothered in mud. For all the gravel you were fed, for every bruise and knot that named you, I must plant you in a bed of blood-hot muscle, must deliver you into me, so I may carry you as the only mother you have ever known.
Across the Street from the Whitmore Home for Girls, 1949
The Mad Girls climb the wet hill,
breathe the sharp air through sick-green lungs.
The Wildest One wanders off like an old cow
and finds a steaming breast inside a footprint in the snow.
She slips it into her glove, holds it close like a darling.
At night, she suckles the lavender tit, still warm
in her hard little hands. She drapes it over her heart—
the closest she will ever come to a Woman Thing.
She sleeps on her right side with the breast
tucked between her legs. Her eyes flutter like a rocked doll.
She dreams of Before the Father, when her body
was smooth as a crab, her fingers
tip-toe soft. Her mouth was a shining crown,
her hair moved like a hungry dog.
Outside her bedroom, the Lonesome Boys hide in trees
to watch the Father lift her gown.
In the morning, she is who she is again.
Her hair, a soft black brick, her body held together
by hammers. The breast is shriveled up. Gone cold
in her lap. A death-blue fish with one stone eye.