GENDERATION

The taut curving underside of a fattened pig

begs to be cut open

it is October again

under a gunmetal sky

the men bathe the body in warm water

brush the hair away thin and gray

and too much like my father’s

 

the skillful unzipping of the stomach

is done by one or another of my uncles

whose sons pull back the skin to find the

tumultuous intertwining of still warm organs

these we carefully collect and separate

 

it is the women’s turn to work

inside the barn we make head cheese

we begin to boil fat for lard

we hold each other’s children

teach the young girls how to clean intestine

 

my father grinds the meat for sausage

and my mother seasons it

dried herbs salt and pepper

together we stuff the casing

drape the long links over wooden beams

 

for the men to carry to the smoke house

as the day is ending we wash it all clean

hands and table tops and knives and pots

the women make dinner and the men say grace

and everyone eats and waits for winter

together

A DISAPPOINTING BIRTHDAY

I said I wanted a puppy which meant
give me something
to coddle

care for
coo over
which meant
I wanted a baby
you see I gave up being christian and feel

empty
with a mind full of measurements

the distance between here
and the next planet
the distance from here

to infinity in every direction
and how a microorganism
living on the barely-there hairs
of my forearm
might be calculating the same
and what a long

miserable

infinity

it is to the ground
I want a baby
for the mind-numbing immediacy of hunger
of lifting a growing body
rocking unspeakable worries
to sleep
kissing brand new skin 

PAVLOV'S DOGS

In a dream I am walking east on 38th Street,

alone, no cars on the road, no one on the sidewalk,

no one walking or drinking

indiscreetly, no one asking for money at BP, but there are dogs sleeping in the median.

I step off the sidewalk, cross two lanes to them: 

all golden coated and well-groomed. They look soft, I think, and kneel down, to touch.

 

Next to me in bed, you are deeply asleep,

unnaturally peaceful.

I search your face for signs of your waking self.

There is one long crease dividing your forehead into
North and South,

marking the middle, and I struggle through the sheets

to touch its smooth, sleep form. Your skin looks soft, I think and reach for you.

 

I stretch out my hand, and just

at the moment of contact, the mutt wakes up,

barks and bares its teeth. I bolt upright, out of sleep.

Your eyes open on me, and quickly

I withdraw my hand. 

A WOMAN'S WORTH IN FRUIT

Red, tough flesh yells yellow as I pull it apart
in search of seeds, a topping for salad or curry
a spoonful to savor after a meal. She is a fellow
woman, this bleeding specimen whose important
parts I have separated into a glass bowl.
I picture my own worth, spread across the counter,
dripping in its life force, microscopic diamonds,
futures, half-possibilities stored up in a sack
too much like the thin pale skin that separates
clusters of pomegranate seeds. She is a fellow
woman, this delicious winter fruit, shipped in
from holier places to remind us of Jerusalem:
Palestinian men trading in Jewish currency.
Ten shekel a pomegranate, ten shekel to taste
Jesus’s blood. She didn’t ask for this: to be a symbol
of hope, abundance, desire, prosperity,
the return of spring, a mother’s love for her child.
Why does fertility inspire us?
Why is it so desirous?

THE BABY AND THE BATHWATER

you would be amazed
at how my thermometer
for good and bad has


changed how I will stick
my hand into a bag of
bad spinach unfazed


by the smell of rot
the journey back to black earth
is an essential


embrace for kitchen
life I will not punish myself
by pitching a full bag


of precious spinach
I will put up with the black melting
corpses held back


from the grave for a
few green leaves and one
less trip to market

ESAU'S BLESSING

I dreamt I knocked out a tooth.
Numb from too much wine, I fell 
didn’t feel it 
until sober
when I ran my tongue back and forth 
down the break, the rough valley 
to my gum
a blank
where the tooth had been
and it made me shiver:
disgust and
regret
and a wanting
so desperate and unquenchable
for a reversal 
that it boiled in my stomach
and three goats walked out
all bleating “Rebekah*, Rebekah”
tripping off in different directions
until my mother 
rounded them up,
tied them together
and they were a family.

I awake to the sober truth of myself:
my unproductive nature with women
my reluctance to leave home for even one night

I will forgive you, the will of God
and our mother
who was right.

*Rebekah is believed to come from the root-verb רבק which means to tie up. The name signifies a tying up of livestock for protection, establishment of their home, and to keep them from wandering off. Within the name Rebekah is the notion that individuals are brought together by something higher, more intelligent.
 

 
 
 
 
 
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