Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lucia Perillo

The Floating Rib

Because a woman had eaten something
when a man told her not to. Because the man
who told her not had made her
from another man's bones. That's why
men badgered the heart-side of her chest,
knowing she could not give the bone back, knowing
she would always owe them that one bone.

And you could see how older girls who knew
their catechism armed themselves against it:
with the pike end of teasing combs
they scabbarded in pocketbooks that clashed
against the jumper's nightwatch plaid.
In the girl's bathroom, you watched them
wield the spike in dangerous proximity to their eyes,

shepherding the bangs through which they peered
like cheetahs in an upside-downward-growing grass.
Then they'd mouth the words to "Runaway"
while they ran white lipstick round their lips,
white to announce they had no blood
so any wound would leave no trace, as Eve's
having nothing more to lose must have made

her fearless. What was weird was how soon
the ordinary days started running past them
like a rive, how willingly they entered it
and how they rose up on the other side. Tamed,
or god no...your mother: ready to settle
with whoever found the bone under her blouse
and give it over, and make a life out of the getting
back.

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M is for Margaret, who was swept out to sea...