Woodside, NY (1974)
Contentment is a wet chest in December
Because when the breeze rushes off
The cars and onto the sidewalk
And through my coat and through
The little boxes of light in my bathing suit
Into the bare little dip between my breasts
I know I won’t have to talk to anyone.
Of course, what I hope is that
I do not see anyone at all.
That is, Anyone I know. Anyone who knows
who gave me the bowling ball in my belly
that kept me from being one of those
car drivers on the road pushing the wind,
Anyone who knows I am a loser
Anyone who knows what the little patch
of jet black hair looked like as I laid
my son in the space between my breasts
on the walk home from the grocery store
past these same brick apartments,
Anyone who knows I’m not coming to tea
and so invites me for something to say,
Anyone who knows I let my daughter run
wild like an Indian, cut her hair short
and jump from garage roof to garage roof,
Anyone who knows I let her play basketball,
and skip her bath, and skin her knees.
Anyone who knows I don’t want her to be like me.
Anyone who knows how to say the rosary
and scoffs at my name being Mary.
But today, with my hair joined in little Vs
From where the pool water tried to run away
And with my muscles spent like single dollar bills
Have been pulled through each tendon
Enough times to leave them raw and wobbly
And with the little patch of bare and wet on my chest,
I have an excuse to cut the conversation
Anyone who knows how to say the rosary / and scoffs at my name being Mary.